Close to Home

It's one thing seeing xenophobia play itself out on the news each night. It's another to stare it in the face.

Last night the attacks started in Cape Town. Reports were flooding in to the radio station of people running for their lives on the highways, of relief organizations and police kicking into gear as their "what if" plan had to be acted upon. By the time I left for home, the township 1km away from where I live was being targeted.

ONE kilometer away. I could hear the sirens as I arrived home. I could see those who had fled setting up shelter for the night in the bushes near the busiest intersections in the hope that there they'd find safety. The Zimbabweans usually thronging around stopped cars, hawking everything from beaded ornaments to cellphone chargers are noticeably absent. Town was packed with cars and trucks carting every stick of a household's furniture and all its residents - getting out, going anywhere - just not home.

Favourite Man and I did a shop run this evening and our car guard - a refugee from Brazzaville - told of beatings, killings, violence just down the road. He and his friends are sheltering in town.

I've looked the targets of xenophobia in the face tonight. It's no longer stories on the news. It's here, right on my doorstep.