Migrant beating sparks protests

A MOZAMBICAN illegal immigrant's ordeal at the hands of black South African police has highlighted the xenophobia faced by black foreigners. After he told of being beaten, robbed and thrown off a deportation train, diplomats called on South Africa to treat immigrants more humanely.

Sergio Machava, 22, said one woman on the train to Mozambique on 25 August had been thrown on to the tracks by police and lost both legs when they were cut off by the wheels.

Officers beat the deportees with belts and stole their money before throwing them off the moving train, said Mr Machava, an illegal hawker. "I had 250 rand (pounds 25). They took it and pushed me off the train. I hit my head and face and I was coughing blood."

The account of their ordeal prompted the Mozambican consul, Junqueiro Manhique, to chide South Africa for mistreat- ing his countrymen, recalling that Mozambique gave asy-lum to anti-apartheid activists.

Most South Africans argue that black foreigners should be thrown out because they contribute to the huge unemployment problem. In Johannesburg, there are daily attacks on foreigners - legal and illegal - who are identified by looks or by their failure to respond quickly to a phrase in Zulu.

Last year, three Senegalese traders were whipped until they died on a train from Pretoria to Johannesburg. The assailants were part of a group calling itself Unemployed Masses of South Africa.

Superintendent Martin Aylward, spokesman for South Africa's border police, said he had not heard of the incident reported by Mr Machava but would seek a statement from him. "We are aware of corruption taking place, and bribes being taken on these trips by police personnel."

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