S Africa displaced ‘suicide bid’

fence_ap226b.jpgSomalis displaced by attacks against foreigners South Africa have been threatening to drown themselves, according to local media.

The migrants were reportedly seeking to be resettled from a camp outside Cape Town that had been set up after the recent violence.

A police spokesman said rumours several people had drowned were untrue.

A wave of anti-foreigner violence broke out last month north of Johannesburg and spread across the country.

At least 70,000 people fled the attacks and more than 50 people were killed.

Many foreigners took refuge in makeshift camps where conditions were poor, while others fled back to their home countries.

The Red Cross said 36,000 people have returned to Mozambique from South Africa, while an estimated 1,900 people had fled to Malawi.


The unrest at the Soetwater camp began after a meeting between displaced migrants and officials from the UN refugee agency.

A group of Somalis – unhappy with the discussions and the relief effort following last month’s violence – began a hunger strike that escalated into threats of suicide, The Herald newspaper reported.

One 25-year-old Somali was rescued after several hours in the sea.

“He wanted to die because of his stress,” said community leader Abdulaani Wenliye.

Others threatened to follow.

“I’m ready to jump in the sea with my eight children because I have no hope,” one migrant, Raxma Moalin, told the Johannesburg Star.

An official said rescue teams had pulled “one or two” people out of the water after they had jumped in to find four people rumoured to be missing.

Western Cape spokesperson Superintendent Andre Traut said rumours that four people had drowned were unfounded.

“After a search operation in which 35 police officers were deployed, some in a helicopter, and the National Sea Rescue Institute members, the reports proved to be false when nobody was found,” he said.