Portuguese emigrés in South Africa are suffering, says community leader

Portuguese emigrés in South Africa have been caught up in the wave of xenophobic attacks causing chaos in Johannesburg and Pretoria – and up till now there has been zero government support.  

Community leader Manny Ferreirinha says Portuguese businesspeople will be trying to help themselves, but it is time for the government to step in.

So far at least 11 have been killed in the attacks, centred in the Gauteng province.

Various shops and businesses run by Portuguese have been ransacked, but there are no reports of any Portuguese casualties.

The unrest began last month, and involves South Africans waging attacks on “several foreign communities”, including Portuguese. 

The minorities targeted are mainly Somalis, Pakistanis, Muslims and Nigerians. But on Sunday, “hundreds of South Africans of Zulu origin marched through the streets of Johannesburg” in precisely the areas where Portuguese outlets operate, chanting slogans like “foreigners go home”, say reports.

Lusa adds that Francisco-Xavier de Meireles – the Portuguese consul general in Johannesburg – has advised fellow nationals to ‘start organising’ themselves collectively through civic platforms like Fórum Português (the one led by Manny Ferreirinha).

“We have to be organised”, he told a meeting round the memorial to Portuguese victims of crime in South Africa.

As to any kind of ‘plan B’ for the evacuation of nationals, Xavier de Meireles said “the EU doesn’t have a military force. We haven’t reached that point (of pulling emigrés out), we are in the phase of dialoguing with authorities”.

According to Lusa, five Portuguese shops have been attacked in the violence so far, with damages exceeding half a million euros.

[email protected]