A massive joint operation by Home Affairs, South African Defence Forces (SANDF), South African Police services (SAPS), Customs Services, SA Revenue Services and the Traffic and Fire Services, with more than 300 members cordoned off Korsten CBD and searched everybody and shops.
The operation follows a call by the National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure ordering all the provinces to clean up the country of illegal immigrants from identied hotspots.
The clampdown began in Korsten because the populous town is regarded as a stronghold of foreigners.
Operation Fiela then moved to Port Elizabeth’s Central and Walmer Township was not spared. Famed for being a bastion of foreigners, dozens were bundled into Police vans and taken to St Albans prison awaiting deportation.
The media was banned from taking pictures, let alone to hold a press interview.
“This is a police operation and the media are not allowed to see what is happening”, said police spokesperson, Captain Sandra Janse Van Rensburg.
Unlike other crime busting operations, Fiela was not welcomed by many residents within the area.
Zuma has lost the support of his people. He now uses other African brothers as scapegoats for his failure.
The taxi industry was the worst hit. Andile Ndoni, a taxi driver did not hide his anger.
“They should have told us before they do this. We depend on these foreigners for our business. They give us good business. We had budgeted for this day. Now I will cash nothing today”, he said.
Mputimu Kato, 34, a herbalist in Korsten expressed his frustration at Operation Fiela.
“This is exactly what the Apartheid government used to do. You set a black man against each other so that when they fight you extend your term as a leader. Zuma has lost
the support of his people. He now uses other African brothers as scapegoats for his failure”, he said.
Meanwhile,Mohammed Kat, Secretary of the Somali Association of South Africa was diplomatic about Operation Fiela.
“I don’t support raids that promote segregation or xenophobia, but I commend the way they carried out their raids here in PE. The police and soldiers were not brutal like what we saw in Joburg and other places. Generally it is a bad operation because it changes the perception of South Africans towards their African brothers from other countries”, he continued.
This shows that the government is losing its war on gangsterism.
“It would have been better had they used all these resources to fight the drug lords and gangsterism here in Korsten. This shows that the government is losing its war on gangsterism”, he explained.
With the support of a police helicopter that hovered in the clear blue sky, there was nowhere to hide behind.
After the day-long operation in Korsten, police released their statistics. They had arrested 76 suspected illegal immigrants in Korsten only.
The operation had also searched 140 vehicles and 375 people. This also resulted in 18 cars being impouned, while police recovered two vehicles that were believed to be stolen.