In multiple raids by police, the army and Home Affairs officials, that lasted until the early hours on Wednesday, 160 illegal foreigners were arrested across the Durban city centre. They now face deportation.
The arrests are part of Operation Fiyela – a government initiative to reclaim the streets from criminals. The operation also aimed to crack down on undocumented immigrants.
At the weekend 108 people were arrested across KwaZulu-Natal for various offences – also as part of Operation Fiyela.
In last night’s action, several buildings on Mansel Road, Carlisle Street, Mahatma Gandhi (Point) Road, Dr Yusuf Dadoo (Grey) and Joseph Nduli (Russell) Street were targeted. The police also raided bars, searching people for drugs and weapons.
Among those arrested was a documented foreigner, Mboyi Kalambayi, who was accused by police of interfering with the raid.
He was arrested during an interview with the Daily News and eNCA after police said he had attempted to hide an undocumented foreigner while delaying opening his flat on Mahatma Gandhi Road.
Kalambayi accused police of being heavy-handed and punching and pushing him to the ground.
He said he was innocent and waved his residence permit while asking why he had been beaten.
“I am not a criminal, I have my documents, why are you beating me?” he asked one officer.
“He is the witness,” he said, pointing at another officer. “I want him to help me show the other policeman who beat me, he was there,” he said.
One officer alleged Kalambayi had tried to hide an undocumented foreigner, but Kalambayi denied this and claimed he simply opened the door, at which point a bright police flashlight was directed at him and he was pushed to the ground.
He was shoved in the back of a police van along with others.
“I do not understand why they beat me. They put the torch in my face, they slap me and they punch me. I’m not illegal here, they ask for papers and I give them. What they are doing is very wrong,” he said.
Provincial police spokesman, Major Thulani Zwane, confirmed Kalambayi had been arrested for disrupting the work of the police while they performed their duties and said police had appealed to him to open a case at the police station if he felt he had a case. He said the matter would be investigated.
Zwane said those arrested for being undocumented would appear in court and would be deported.
He said eight were arrested for drug possession.
In one room in Mahatma Gandhi Road, 12 people shared six beds and paid R500 rent each.
Mazwi Yanelisa, 20, of foreign descent but born in the Eastern Cape, boasted he was the “generation of Jacob Zuma” as he revealed his ID to the police when asked for a permit or passport.
“Don’t ask me where I am from, I am a South African. I was born here, don’t worry about where my parents are from, that is none of your business,” he said.