Rubber Bullets and Paper Houses

A Somali man breaks down crying after being evicted from the Klerksoord refugee camp north of Pretoria. Police and armed forces set fire to the camp, which opened last May in the wake of the xenophobic violence that swept across South Africa, early Monday morning, displacing 400 Somali nationals.

With the remains of their homes still smoking behind them, three refugees fill containers of drinking water to take back to their displaced families.

Former shacks.

Identity papers.

Elmy Waksame poses with the frayed photo of her family she brings with her wherever she goes. Elmy fled Somalia in 1995 to escape that country’s civil war, which claimed the lives of her children and roughly 300000 others, only to find herself the target of xenophobic violence and discrimination in post-apartheid South Africa.


Metro police stand guard along the entrance to the camp.

Kid convention.

Retrieving possessions.

Peering out from a tangle of hands.

Welts from rubber bullets trace a Somali man’s stomach.

Water bottles jockey for position at the camp’s only tap.

Displaced refugees play an impromptu game of football outside their burned-down camp.


Austin Andrews is a Vancouver-based photojournalist and occasional filmmaker with a penchant for finding the fantastic in the everyday. Contact him at austin [at] disposablewords [dot] net

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