We are all disgusted and hurt by the senseless violence that has been taking place in South Africa over the past few weeks. African people working and living in that country have been beaten, tortured and killed by locals who are demanding that foreigners, including Zimbabweans, leave that country. South African vigilantes have a special way of killing people: they tie the victims’ hands at the back and put a car tyre around their necks, douse the victim with petrol and set them alight.
In case there are two or more victims, they are tied together so that they will not be able to run from their confused, burning hell.
This special kind of treatment is called necklacing.
Sometimes unfortunate individuals get stoned to death.
All this while police watch, mainly.
Businesses and household properties have been burnt and people have had to run away with only their lives, sometimes holding onto their little children.
Some have not been so lucky.
The official figures say seven people have been killed in the carnage, but your bet is as good as any, that the figure is far higher than that.
Zimbabwe has begun repatriating its citizens and President Mugabe rightly condemned the violence calling it disgusting and shocking.
Many other African countries have followed suit and have moved to take their nationals away to safety.
In Mozambique, tensions have been high with sporadic attacks on South African-registered vehicles while large South African companies have as a precaution evacuated their staff back to South Africa.
South African leaders, in particular President Zuma, have tried to condemn the violence but have been far from convincing.
In all his public or televised speeches, President Zuma has condemned violence with the one corner of the mouth while the other has been tacit in approving violence by attributing crime to foreigners and saying he will review immigration laws – which have been the very bases of attacks.
His body language has not been convincing, often passing for a perfunctory actor.
He was even condemned by fellow politicians in parliament for this.
A publication called Quartz puts Zuma’s actions perfectly well in an article titled “South Africa’s leaders went missing on the foreigner attacks and shamed our history”.
It begins by telling us: “At the dawn of South Africa’s transition, Jacob Zuma was widely recognised as a peacemaker.”
But he failed the test on xenophobia.
Says Quartz: “Although he tried to assure the disheartened and agitated crowd that the South African government condemned the events of the past two weeks – he lacked the earnestness he once displayed those many years ago. Many in the crowd along with many in and outside the country asked why it had taken Zuma this long to step up and address both the victims and the attackers.
“Even his speech failed to be unequivocal. Summed up, his overriding message to the more than 1 000 foreign nationals stationed at the temporary relocation camp in Chatsworth was: ‘We do not want you to leave, but if you want to go, we will help you leave.’”
He then held up a cheque of R50 000 “in an attempt to demonstrate sympathy”.
He also presented a few other donations by businesses in Chatsworth and Phoenix, but “(t)he crowd responded back with jeers and boos”.
“The measly donation aside, the foreign nationals at the Chatsworth camp this past weekend were peeved by the idea that South Africans want ‘to make their lives better for them.’ After two weeks of horror, and everyday accounts of prejudice, it really is no surprise they booed,” notes Quartz.
So the catastrophe went on.
King Goodwill Zwelithini, the Zulu monarch who is being blamed for the flare-up in violence after saying that foreigners must pack their bags and leave South Africa, has not helped matters either, especially from a moral perspective.
During his so-called Imbizo he did not apologise for his inflammatory remarks but blamed everyone – the media and a doubtful “third force” – but himself.
He went further.
He complained that he was being accused for the deaths yet he had not killed anyone. What cheek!
He even went further to insult our intelligence by charging that the war that now was to be waged was a war to protect foreigners.
He laughed while saying this.
So, fear, death and displacement continue to grip foreigners in South Africa.
The most curious thing, though, is that there has not been the righteous outrage by the usual big brothers from the West.
I have been waiting for the US, Canada, Australia and all the EU to cry blue over South African murders.
Nothing of the sort has happened.
That is, except a brief, little- or never-publicised statement by the US ambassador to Pretoria that I had to spend the greater part of the week trying to find on the internet.
The statement itself is very curious.
It says: “We remain concerned at the loss of innocent lives, destruction of property, and impact on families and communities, and we urge individuals involved to refrain from all forms of violence, exercise restraint, and rely on peaceful dialog (sic) to resolve any differences.
“The US government has long recognised the challenges posed by an influx of migrants and refugees throughout Southern Africa and provides various forms of assistance in South Africa.”
Patrick H. Gaspard, US Ambassador to South Africa, adds: “As an immigrant to my own country, my heart goes out to those who have been attacked for being different.”
No anger, no threats and definitely no sanctions for such horrific acts that government clearly failed to contain, and in some cases, encouraged as did Lindiwe Zulu, the Small Business Development Minister; and Nomvula Mokonyane, the Minister of Water and Sanitation.
The most foul King Zwelithini has even compared foreigners to ants and lice that must be brought out in the sun to die.
Ordinarily, these should be cases for the International Criminal Court as they incite genocide in the proportion of what the world saw and ignored in Rwanda.
You can imagine what would have happened if this xenophobic country were Zimbabwe!
Surely, the United Nations Security Council, egged on by the same powerful countries that are ignoring as foreigners are being butchered in South Africa, would have passed a resolution for the invasion of the country under the dubious Responsibility to Protect (R2P)!
The same way they did in Libya.
But rules change willy-nilly where Big Brother is concerned.
It is called hypocrisy.
If human rights mattered surely we should have heard a lot of noise from the West regarding South Africa.
We hope that the leaders in the West sleep well at night after delivering diatribes over some unknown, attention-seeking activist from Zimbabwe while they ignore the humanitarian situation unfolding in South Africa where several people have been killed and up to 30 000 displaced.