Xenophobia in South Africa

Jail xenophobic attackers: ANC Women’s League
The African National Congress Women’s League in KwaZulu-Natal today called for displaced foreigners to be helped by civil society – and for the perpetrators of xenophobic attacks to be jailed.

Speaking out against the violence including destruction of property and the looting of shops in the province‚ ANCWL acting provincial secretary Weziwe Thusi said in a statement: “The savagery of the past few days has left close knit families broken and hundreds of people losing their hard-earned properties. As an organisation that has strong ties with all countries in the continent‚ we will never condone hatred which is perpetrated by just a few individuals”.

“We call on the police to arrest the perpetrators and for the National Prosecuting Authority to ensure that they are prosecuted and given lengthy jail terms‚” said Thusi.

Although the provincial government and the eThekwini Municipality are providing help to displaced foreign nationals‚ Thusi said: “We call on our people to extend a hand of friendship to our foreign nationals who are fellow human beings”.

She said emergency shelters desperately needed donations of food‚ basic necessities‚ blankets and clothes.-Times Live

SA cops, goons in street battles…•Five foreigners killed since Friday •Concern xenophobia can turn genocidal
Bulawayo Bureau—

SOUTH African police fought running battles with hundreds of locals armed with knobkerries, pangas and rocks in the port city of Durban yesterday as a new wave of xenophobia showed no signs of abetting. Durban’s CBD witnessed most of the clashes between police, foreigners and locals, with a car set alight, stun grenades and tear gas canisters being fired.

Five people have died since Friday, starting with two Ethiopians who were petrol-bombed in the container they slept in and ran their small business from.

No Zimbabwean deaths have so far been reported.

Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo yesterday said Zimbabwe was watching with concern the unfolding wave of violence which he said appeared to be targeted at black Africans.

Whereas most media commentators have identified the violence as “xenophobia” — a hatred of foreigners — Prof Moyo used the word “Afrophobia”, which is a hatred of other Africans.

He warned that xenophobia could “easily mutate” into genocide.

“Xenophobia today can easily mutate into genocide tomorrow. Stop It,” the minister said on Twitter, using the hashtag #AfrophobiaInSAMustEnd.

Prof Moyo also took aim at Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, whose call for “foreigners to leave” appeared to have inflamed the latest anti-foreigner sentiment in KwaZulu Natal Province, whose capital is Durban.

“King Zwelithini must extinguish what he ignited. Xenophobia is a crime against humanity,” Prof Moyo tweeted in one of the first public reactions from a Zimbabwe Government official to the violence that has horrified many Zimbabweans.

Reports from South Africa said a crowd of about 700 people gathered at the end of Monty Naicker Road, where it intersects with Dr Yusuf Dadoo Road, in the Durban CBD — taunting police and baying for the blood of foreign nationals.

Police used water cannons and stun grenades to control the crowds. Pictures of a man showing injuries to his right leg circulated online with claims that he had been shot by police using rubber bullets.

As commuters headed home late in the afternoon, sirens wailed throughout the seaside city and a pall of smoke rose from the CBD.

Police spokesperson Jay Naicker said: “The police are still monitoring the situation.”

When asked to clarify unconfirmed reports on social media that a Pakistani national had been shot, or had been set alight, he replied: “We heard that there was a man injured but we cannot confirm at this stage as no case has been opened.” Rights group Amnesty International called on South Africa authorities to “launch full, transparent and independent investigations, and bring suspected perpetrators to account.”

“The prevailing culture of impunity must be stopped,” said Sicel’mpilo Shange-Buthane, executive director of Amnesty International-South Africa.

“Amnesty International has repeatedly appealed to the South African government, including in January this year, to develop a systematic plan involving the police and other agencies to prevent and protect refugees from targeted attacks,” he added.

Zimbabwean consul-general Mr Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro said: “Embassy officials arrived in Durban today (yesterday) to work with the host Government in identifying the affected people. Logistics will also be worked to assist those, including those without proper documentation, who are willing to return home and also how some can be integrated in communities willing to accommodate them. If there are gross cases we will be able to know them tomorrow.” The Durban violence outbreak follows similar uprisings in Soweto where foreign shops were looted and foreigners displaced three weeks ago.

In 2008, in the worst violence to date against foreigners, over a dozen people were killed – some burnt alive through necklacing, a barbaric slow-killing method in which a burning tyre is placed around one’s neck.

At the time, President Thabo Mbeki – horrified by the violence – said South Africans’ heads were “bowed in shame”.

“We’ve always known that regardless of the boundaries drawn by others to define us as different and separate from our kith and kin, and even despite our occupation of different spaces across the divides occasioned by the existence of the oceans that nature has formed, we share with those of whom we are part, a common destiny,” President Mbeki said.

South Africa is home to thousands of Zimbabweans, many of them illegal residents. Only last week, President Mugabe – on a State visit to Zimbabwe’s southern neighbour – thanked the South African government for its “tolerance” shown to Zimbabwean immigrants over the years.

“We owe you not just a gesture of thankfulness, which we must express, but we owe you that thankfulness for the tolerance there has been on the part of the government here, as our people have really offended your system by jumping the border and disturbing even the social system here,” the President said.

There have been calls by Zimbabweans on social media for locals to boycott a show by Durban-based group Big Nuz in protest against the xenophobic violence. The group is due to perform in Bulawayo on Friday.

Not everyone agrees with a boycott. One Twitter user shot back: “Might as well boycott all SA products in Zimbabwean shops over xenophia while you’re at it #slipperyslope.”

Another user @patphiri said: “So are people also going to boycott #SABC soapies/ SA PSL/ SA booze or #BigNuz are the fall guys?”

Meanwhile, Prof Moyo also hit back at ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe’s criticism of President Mugabe’s treatment of whites, saying Zimbabwe did not agree with the ANC’s view on blacks.

Prof Moyo tweeted a link to a story headlined “We differ with Mugabe on whites: Mantashe” and commented: “And we differ with ANC on blacks!”

“In Zanu-PF we reject Afrophobia,” Prof Moyo said in another tweet.

His comments were in reaction to Mantashe’s claim on Monday that the ANC “theorises colonialism differently to Zanu-PF” and has no desire to “drive white people into the sea”.

Ethiopian dies after xenophobia violence in KZN

Johannesburg – One of the two Ethiopian brothers who were burned by a rampaging mob in xenophobic violence in Durban has died, a community leader said on Sunday.

The two men were in their shop in Umlazi, south of Durban, when it was petrol-bombed on Friday night.

“The hospital has informed us that our brother [meaning a fellow Ethiopian] died. They said he died shortly after arriving in hospital,” said Ephraim Meskele, leader of the Ethiopian community in Durban.

Meskele said the other brother had severe burns and was “fighting for his life” in hospital.

“This is like a war zone. It’s like we are in Syria. I have never seen such cruelty,” Meskele told AFP.

Over a thousand mostly African foreign nationals have fled their homes in townships around Durban since xenophobic attacks and looting erupted two weeks ago.

They are currently housed in makeshift camps, as police and politicians attempt to restore order.

According to Meskele, the Ethiopian community was the worst affected.

Police said the reason for the outbreak in xenophobic attacks was unclear, with contradictory reports about the death toll.

According to police spokesperson Thulani Zwane, four people had died in the violence, but some media reports put the figure at six.

A total of 17 people have been arrested in two weeks.

Meskele blamed the police for failing to enough to prevent the orgy of violence and looting of foreign-owned shops in the townships.

“We have heard from our members that some police officers are actually encourage the looting. That is shameful,” said Meskele.

Violence against African immigrants in South Africa is common, with impoverished locals accusing foreigners of taking their jobs and business.

The government has condemned the violence, with President Jacob Zuma sending a team of officials to assess the situation.

“We reiterate that there can be no justification for attacking foreign nationals,” Zuma said on Sunday.

The latest round of xenophobic violence came just months after similar attacks around Soweto in Johannesburg.-News24