Brian Sokutu
Senior Print Journalist
2 minute read
9 Jun 2022
7:01 am

Xenophobic violence in Limpopo village divides police

Brian Sokutu

Tensions have heightened in My Darling amid strong allegations of police complicity.

Police stand guard as disgruntled South Africans march in Orange Grove, Johannesburg, 13 February 2022, calling on the removal of illegal immigrants from within economic sector. Picture: Michel Bega

Amid strong allegations of police complicity, the fresh outbreak of xenophobic violence against Zimbabwean foreign nationals in a usually tranquil rural My Darling village in Limpopo has pitted a Hawks captain against an South African Police Service (Saps) station commander, with the local Saps most senior officer supporting villagers.

So heightened have tensions in My Darling become that a group of patrolling villagers – recognised by Maleboho police station commander Lieutenant-Colonel Dihangoane as having “done a good job in fighting theft in the area” – besieged the homestead of Hawks Captain Ballack Sebola, demanding that his traumatised domestic worker return to Zimbabwe.

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Sebola, who has opened a case of intimidation and trespass, has relived his employee’s horror when a group of men surrounded the homestead, with some scaling the wall.

“Over the past two weekends, a large number of local men, operating like a vigilante group, arrived at my homestead when I was not there, demanding that my worker return to Zimbabwe.

“Due to the fact that I have a high wall, two managed to scale over into my yard during the first incident, telling him he should return to Zimbabwe.

“Despite the employee showing them documents from home affairs to prove his legal status in South Africa, they would not listen.

“He gave the group leader, who identified himself as ‘Mpago’, the phone to talk to me.

“He told me they did not want Zimbabweans in the area.

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“We then argued over his legal status, which they would not recognise – threatening that hell would break loose if I failed to comply. They then left my home.”

When the group returned to the homestead for the second time the following weekend, Sebola advised his domestic worker “not to run away because they could kill him”.

In an SMS seen by The Citizen, addressed to Saps provincial spokesperson Brigadier Motlafela Mojapelo, Dihangoane praised the group “for their efforts in fighting crime in My Darling”.