AIMS condemns xenophobic attacks

CAPE TOWN/ABUJA. — The African Institute for Mathematical Science (AIMS) has condemned recent attacks on foreign nationals in South Africa. The organisation said xenophobia had caused irreparable damage to the country. AIMS founder Professor Neil Turok said he was deeply shocked and saddened by the recent violence.

“It is clear that there are deeper socio-economic catalysts that have brought South Africa to this point.

“A motivating factor for the foundation of AIMS was to address these issues by creating an environment in which Africa’s brightest students can become innovators who propel scientific, education and economic self-sufficiency.

“If we focus on the solutions, we can move not only South Africa but the continent forward towards sustainable prosperity and avoid conflict that leads to irreparable damage such as loss of life,” Turok said.

The condemnation follows similar sentiments by the Department of Science and Technology Minister Naledi Pandor.

“Without the experience and expertise of these esteemed colleagues (from other African countries), who also fulfil the valuable role of mentors and guides to young South Africans, science and technology in our country would be very much the poorer.

“Let us also not forget that during their exile from South Africa, due to the denial of access to education opportunities by the apartheid regime, many South African scientists benefited from training and education in other African states,” Pandor said.

The ongoing xenophobic violence in South Africa erupted in certain parts of Durban two weeks ago, and then spread to other parts of the country, including the Johannesburg CBD.

Seven people are reported to have been killed with more than 2 000 others displaced from their homes.

The violence has been attributed to various historical, social and economic factors — with key drivers being poverty, unemployment and poor access to education, leaving migrants and the poorest South Africans competing for scarce jobs to make a menial living.

AIMS, the first pan-African network of centres of excellence, which established its first centre in 2003 in Cape Town, provides innovative training and research opportunities in mathematical sciences to brilliant students from across Africa.

Since its inception, AIMS’ objective has been to enable Africa’s youths to shape the continent’s future through Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) education.

The organisation, which has centres in South Africa, Ghana, Senegal, Cameroon and Tanzania, offers Master’s coursework in mathematical sciences and is focused on scientific training, cutting-edge research and public engagement.

AIMS has produced 748 mathematical scientists from 42 African countries including 240 women.

Meanwhile, the All Africa Students Union (AASU) has called on the South African government to retain normalcy in that country amid a wave of violence against foreign nationals.

Nigerians have not been spared from the tensions.

Awaah Fred, AASU Secretary General, said the organisation condemned unreservedly these shameful xenophobic acts and calls for the culprits to be brought to justice.

“AASU calls on the South African government not to leave any stone unturned to bring up normalcy in the country,” said Fred.

Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has been blamed for the latest round of xenophobic violence in South Africa after he was quoted as saying foreign nationals must return “home.”

Fred said it was meanwhile, misleading to link the difficulties that the majority of South Africans were facing to the African immigrants.

“The situation of the people of South Africa can be traced to the deep disparities created by the previous apartheid regime and the current management of the country.” — CAJ News.

More flee xenophobic attacks

Thupeyo Muleya in DURBAN and Innocent Ruwende in Beitbridge
The second batch of 333 Zimbabweans who were displaced by xenophobic attacks in Durban, South Africa, will leave for Zimbabwe this morning in a convoy of three buses and a truck. These are part of 2 500 people from different countries who sought refuge at the Phoenix Camp following overnight attacks on African immigrants in the Ntomba area of Durban.

Zimbabwe’s Consul-General to South Africa Mr Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro said the repatriation documents had been processed by both the embassy and the Home Affairs department.

“We have processed documents for all our people and they will leave at 8m tomorrow (Thursday) in three buses and one truck that will carry their luggage,” he said.

“The sorting out of their documents had been temporarily shelved as the Home Affairs department was clearing immigrants from Mozambique and Malawi. We are very grateful for the corporation and assistance we are getting from businessmen in Durban and the South African government in providing shelter to our people.”

Mr Mukonoweshuro said though the situation was now calm in Durban, people were still cautious.

He said a lot of immigrants had shown enthusiasm in going home though a few had indicated they still need to collect their salaries and properties.

“People are really excited to go home after spending several days at the camps. It was the same case with Malawian and Mozambican immigrants,” said Mr Mukonoweshuro.

Government started evacuating displaced immigrants from South Africa on Sunday with the first batch of 407 which had been staying at the Chatsworth camp arriving in Zimbabwe on Monday evening.

The victims are being transported in Government-hired transport via Beitbridge Border Post where they are being handed over to the Civil Protection Unit for onward transmission and integration to their respective homes.

They are also given post trauma counselling upon arrival in Zimbabwe.

There were reports of more xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg yesterday although the Zimbabwean embassy said no Zimbabwean has volunteered to be repatriated from that area.

“A few cases of xenophobic attacks have been reported in Johannesburg, but as of now no displaced Zimbabwean has volunteered to be repatriated,” said Zimbabwe ambassador to South Africa, Mr Isaac Moyo.

Labour and Social Services permanent secretary Mr Ngoni Masoka, who is leading a committee comprising several stakeholders, including the police, immigration department, Ministry of Health and Child Care and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, said logistics were in place to welcome the second batch of returnees.

“We are learning from our first experience,” he said in an interview in Beitbridge yesterday. “We had some pitfalls which we must improve on, but generally things went on well with the first group.

“We talked about people going missing in Musina while we were feeding them,” he said. “We have to avoid such situations and be able to account for all the people who get on to the buses. Lots of stop overs increase work for the security team, hence we should avoid that.”

Mr Masoka said Government was going to beef up personnel to ensure that paper work was completed in time and avoid delaying transportation of the immigrants to their homes from the reception centre at the border post.

Principal immigration officer for Beitbridge Mr Innocent Hamandishe said they would engage their counterparts in South Africa to avoid unnecessary delays after the first group of immigrants spent four hours at the South African side of the border.

“We are going to meet them at the South African border to make sure we speed up the process,” he said. “Last time, the people had no repatriation certificates.”

Ministry of Health and Child Care officials said most immigrants were suffering from pneumonia because the places where they were being kept in South Africa were not habitable as the ground was wet.

They said other common ailments were injuries, running stomachs, abdominal discomfort and septic lacerations.

Meanwhile, a Zimbabwean couple who were shot and wounded by a mob of South Africans during fresh xenophobia motivated attacks on Tuesday are reported to be out of danger.

The man, Proud Ncube (33), has since been discharged from hospital, Zimbabwe’s Consul-General Mr Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro, said yesterday.

He said Ncube was shot in the chest and the bullet went out through the back while on a visit to his girlfriend, Sandile Moyo (22) in Alexandra, Johannesburg. (In our issue yesterday we reported the two as Ms Proud Ncube and Mr Innocent Sibanda. We have since been told these are alias names.)

The woman was shot through the mouth and on the right arm, but the bullet missed her tongue.

“Our embassy staff visited the two at Charlotte Maxeke Hospital to check on them physically. They are now in a stable condition,” said Mr Mukonoweshuro.

“Ncube was discharged from hospital and he is being treated as an outpatient from his house in Thembisa suburb.”

Mr Mukonoweshuro said the two were shot with shotguns and robbed of cellphones and money by the mob.

The shooting and the killing of a Mozambican national in the same area has forced the South African government to deploy soldiers to volatile parts of Johannesburg and KwaZulu Natal.

Emmanuel Sithole, the Mozambican, was stabbed to death by four South African men over the weekend in broad-day light, while other residents watched.

The four killers appeared in court yesterday and are still in custody.

Reports indicated yesterday that at least seven people have been killed in the ongoing anti-immigrant violence in South Africa, targeting only Africans.

Zim pair gunned down in S. Africa

Herald Reporters—
Two Zimbabweans are battling for their lives at a South African hospital after they were shot in Alexandra, Johannesburg, the same area where Emmanuel Sithole of Mozambique lost his life at the hands of marauding xenophobic hoodlums. Zimbabwe’s Consul-General to South Africa Mr Batiraishe Mukonoweshuro confirmed the incident yesterday.

He identified the victims as Ms Proud Ncube (33) and Mr Innocent Sibanda (33).

The two were shot in their necks, while Ncube was also shot in the leg.

South African President Jacob Zuma is today expected to meet organisations representing foreigners.

In an interview from South Africa, President Zuma’s spokesperson Mr Marc Maharaj confirmed receiving reports of the shooting, but said the details were still sketchy.

“What I can say is that the President is deeply saddened by continued acts of violence and is scheduled to meet organisations representing foreign nationals today then the day after he will meet stakeholders to discuss immigration laws.

“We condemn all forms of violence and there is an intense anti-xenophobic campaign going on in the country,” said Mr Maharaj.

The shooting and the killing of a Mozambican national in the same area has forced South Africa to deploy soldiers to volatile areas in Johannesburg and KwaZulu-Natal.

Sithole was fatally stabbed by four South African men at the weekend.

The four have since been arrested and appeared in court yesterday for murder.

This comes as the body of one of the xenophobic victims killed in South Africa last week, arrived in Zimbabwe yesterday with burial set for today.

Mrs Naume Garusa (41) was decapitated and her body cut into pieces in South Africa last week.

The body parts were found near Killarney in Johannesburg.

Her son Brian said his mother will be buried today in Chikombedzi, Chiredzi.

Mrs Garusa’s body was identified by her AFM church Pastor Sibongile Kudita.

Pastor Kudita said Naomi’s body was cut into pieces and were stashed in refuse bags.

“Her face was screened and we could not see the whole body which had been reduced to pieces. The funeral parlour tried to put back the pieces together but failed,” she said.

She is believed to have been killed around 9am at her work place in Johannesburg. Mrs Garusa was reported missing and her body parts were later discovered near her workplace.

Gauteng police said they did not think she was a victim of xenophobic violence.

Police spokesperson Lungelo Dlamini said: “We don’t think it (Garusa’s death) was related to the xenophobic violence. It looked like a planned killing – she was killed elsewhere, then her body was put in the plastic bag and dumped,” Dlamini said, confirming that police were investigating the motive for the murder.

Mr Maharaj dismissed reports that the South African government was not doing much in protecting lives of foreigners saying the army had since been deployed in Alexandra to assist police in maintaining peace and security.

At least seven people are reported to have been killed in the ongoing anti-immigrant violence.

Mr Mukonoweshuro commended the South African government for deploying soldiers in the country’s hot spots.

“We appreciate the efforts by our host to take decisive action to quell the continued attack on immigrants. We are hopeful that they will maintain law and order,” he said.

“They (the two Zimbabweans) were shot and injured by a mob of South Africans on Monday night and were rushed to Johannesburg Hospital and are in a stable condition. This incident and the murder of a Mozambican have resulted in the host government deploying soldiers to assist the police in the area in restoring order.”

Mr Mukonoweshuro said they were expecting to repatriate the second batch of Zimbabweans who were displaced during xenophobia attacks in Durban today (Wednesday).

The Home Affairs department will finalise the processes leading to the reparation of our people tomorrow (Wednesday) and we expect to start loading the buses in the afternoon. We are pushing hard and working extra hours to ensure that the whole process will be completed before Friday,” he said.

Over 360 Zimbabweans are still being kept at Phoenix Camp in Durban north pending their evacuation to Zimbabwe by road via Beitbridge Border post.

The first batch of the victims arrived in Beitbridge on Sunday evening in a convoy of six buses and a haulage truck hired by the Zimbabwean Government.

Xenophobia victims narrate ordeal

Innocent Ruwende in Beitbridge—
Eighteen of the more than 400 Zimbabweans repatriated on Monday after xenophobic attacks in South Africa were severely traumatised, while 97 had mental health problems and urgently needed special counselling from Government specialists and other non-governmental organisations who set up a clinic at the International Organisation of Migration offices in Beitbridge.

Deputy director Mental Health in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Mrs Dorcas Sithole said the 18 people needed special counselling because they were traumatised by the events they experienced in Durban.

“We had to counsel the victims because they experienced horrible things which may cause them to have post-traumatic stress, which may lead them to behave in a strange manner. They may end up taking drugs to escape the harsh realities they faced,” she said.

“Of the 456 (received), 97 had mental health problems while 18 needed special counselling,” she said.

Some of the people who underwent counselling said the events they saw in Durban will haunt them forever.

Mr Rodiny Magada (24) of Zaka said on the fateful day, he was sleeping when he heard a loud noise followed by a knock on his door.

“I hid under the bed and a group of Zulu-speaking South Africans forced their way into my house and one of them picked up a half bottle of beer which I had drank earlier and started drinking the alcohol. They started to ransack my house and they took the fridge outside.

“They searched under the mattress and took some money and took the mattress outside. They then lifted the base and found me hiding and they started attacking me with various objects including iron bars, machetes and wooden sticks,” he said.

He said one of the aggressors was wielding a gun and they took everything he had in the house.

Mr Magada said he managed to escape when one of the group members restrained the gang from further assaulting him, but he suffered multiple injuries.

Mr Emmanuel Vengemundai (38) of Chivi said: “I heard some noise and when I opened the door, I was knocked on the head. I could not tell what hit me, but I realised my attackers were heavily armed with claw hammers, knobkerries, iron bars and logs.

“They assaulted me with various objects and left me for dead.”

He said he struggled to walk and after 2km he met some South African Police officers and narrated his ordeal.

Mr Vengemundai who had stayed in South Africa since 2000 said the police seemed afraid to confront the gang, but they took him to a nearby hospital where he had nine stitches sewn on his head and seven on his hands.

Fanuel Musenyurwa (29) said he encountered his attackers when he was about to open the door of his house while coming from work.

“The group of about 30 people armed with various weapons attacked me, but I managed to escape. I ran away but they took all my property which I bought using money I got from plumbing and tiling.”

Mrs Keresi Kurundai (44) said: “We heard the group was reaching our homestead then we fled. While at the shopping centre, we found a group of Zulu men destroying a shop belonging to an Ethiopian while police were watching.

All the victims interviewed said they were sold off by their neighbours.

Xenophobia: No word from Big Brother(s)?

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.

Berita Khumalo speaks on Xenophobic attacks

Mathew Masinge Entertainment Reporter—
South-Africa based Zimbabwean singer Berita Khumalo has spoken out on the ongoing xenophobic attacks saying South Africans should know that whoever comes to their country is there for their benefit. The award-winning Berita was seen in an Urban Zulu hairstyle when she was hosted by South Africa’s ANN7 which she told that the attacks should be a thing of the past.

“To have a situation where people are not being treated well in this country (South Africa) is disgusting and should not be happening in this day and age. South Africa is a well respected country and should maintain its dignity,” she said.

The “Thando Lwethu” hit-maker who has established a base in South Africa over the past years expressed the need for human conversation to take place in the country.

“We are all humans and no one should have power over another because we were created in the same way, let us conserve the human race and say no to shunning it. Let us have a zero tolerance to xenophobia and all forms of hate and resentments,” she pleaded.

The soulful singer who just got her new album “Songs of Empowerment” out recently went ahead to congratulate Zimbabwe on attaining its 35th independence anniversary.

The artiste has joined other musicians like Tuku, Jah Prayzah, Africa Revenge, Amara Brown,Sulumani Chimbetu, Extra large, Edith Weutonga and other Zim dancehall artiste who have lent their voices to speak against the horrific attacks on foreign nationals that include Zimbabweans living in South Africa.

Six people have died in KwaZulu Natal in the latest spate of attacks on foreign African nationals.

It is widely believed that these attacks were sparked by words uttered by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini. He has denied this and said the media misquoted him.

The violence has since spread to parts of Gauteng.

Kanengoni-Malinga speaks on xenophobia

Brenda Phiri Entertainment Reporter
Sport, Arts and Culture deputy minister, Tabetha Kanengoni-Malinga has spoken on the tension in the arts sector that resulted from the current wave of xenophobia in South Africa. This came after the cancellation of a show by South African band Big Nuz in Zimbabwe due to an aggressive social media campaign by locals.

Speaking on the side lines of an art exhibition in the capital recently, Kanengoni-Malinga said people were entitled to express their dissatisfaction in peaceful ways.

“The xenophobia issue is a sensitive one. You have to look at it from two different angles.

“This heinous crime is perpetrated against our people. It is a protective instinct that we have as human beings to protect our own,” said Kanengoni-Malinga.

She said while the initial reaction is the urge to revenge, it usually worsens the situation instead of presenting solutions.

She said the call to boycott South African shows was however a safer and effective way to denounce xenophobia.

“I understand why people are saying that. It is safer because there is no violence involved,” she said.

The deputy minister added that locals should be forgiven for not being in the partying mood at such concerts due to the brutality in the neighbouring country.

“It’s a time where we need to have a positive focus. It’s not really about boycotting South African concerts. People are saying, we want to push you as a South African government. Send the police out there, act swiftly and aggressively against xenophobia. Meanwhile we will not promote your arts industry,” she said.

Meanwhile, South African rapper, Casper Nyovest’s has insisted he will be performing in Bulawayo this Saturday. Through the show’s organisers, he said he will be performing in solidarity with xenophobia victims.

This is despite social threats and calls from various circles for Casper Nyovest to wait for the dust to settle.

Renowned artiste, Albert Nyathi advised locals not to unfairly target the South African artistes as it was an act of Xenophobia.

“These are fellow our artistes from South Africa who have not beaten or killed anyone. We should actually work with them to denounce xenophobia. Let’s not be emotional. There are better ways to handle this,” he said.

Xenophobia hits Jo’burg -2 Zimbabweans feared dead -SA Parliament meets

Mashudu Netsianda and Thupeyo Muleya Chronicle Reporters—
ZIMBABWE’S embassy in South Africa last night said it was investigating reports that two of the six people killed in xenophobic attacks in Durban are Zimbabweans. Isaac Moyo, Zimbabwe’s Ambassador to South Africa, said they were urgently trying to confirm if the country’s nationals were among the dead.“At the moment, the issue of deaths is still hearsay and we’re yet to verify with the assistance of the police,” he told The Chronicle by telephone.

“We’ve heard that there were some Zimbabweans among the dead, a woman and a toddler, but for now we can’t confirm as we’re yet to visit the mortuaries so that we’re able to positively identify the bodies.

“What I noticed [on a visit to Durban to see the injured and displaced] is that we had quite a number of our people who were limping and some had swollen heads.”

South Africa is in the grip of a fast-spreading wave of anti-foreigner violence – the worst since 2008, when 60 people were killed and 50,000 forced to flee their homes, among them Zimbabweans.

South African politicians and celebrities yesterday made impassioned pleas for an end to the xenophobic attacks as the violence reached Johannesburg.

President Jacob Zuma, who has set up a ministerial task team to find solutions to the violence, last spoke publicly on Friday last week. Since then, six people – including a four-year-old boy – have died, mostly in the seaside city of Durban.

The opposition UDM, led by Bantu Holomisa, has forced a snap debate in the South African parliament at 2PM today “to condemn this barbaric behaviour”.

Holomisa said: “Parliament is a symbol of authority. All parties must send a strong message to the world that we’re not part of this nonsense.”

President Zuma has reportedly asked to make a statement before the debate.

Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, using the hashtags #NotInOurName and #SayNoToXenophobia, said on Twitter: “We, all peace-loving people, stand together against all forms of attacks on innocent people.”

Ruling African National Congress stalwart Winnie Madikizela-Mandela told of her heartbreak at the violence, which started in Soweto in January before gathering frightening momentum in recent weeks.

“This is not the freedom we fought for. I’m heartbroken. This has to stop,” said the ex-wife of anti-apartheid icon, Nelson Mandela.

Singer Thandiswa Mazwai, of the group Bongo Maffin, expressed concern at President Zuma’s failure to take visible leadership of the crisis.

“Sometimes in a crisis,” Thandiswa said, “the President might interrupt TV and radio broadcasts to condemn an act and ask the people behlise umoya (tamper their anger). Kuyenzeka (it can happen).”

Ambassador Moyo said at least 2,000 foreigners had been displaced in the two-week long unrest in Durban.

Embassy officials had started documenting Zimbabweans who were affected during the attacks with the assistance of the host government and non-governmental organisations at Chatsworth Camp in Durban.

“We’ve visited Chartsworths Camp and the situation has somewhat slightly improved. Most of the people at the camp are Zimbabweans and we’re now in the process of documenting them so that we get the exact number of those affected,” said Moyo.

“We’re also looking at ways of assisting them with voluntary repatriation and so far the number of those that want to go home is higher than that of those who want to return to the local community.”

Moyo said he will only be able to give figures once the process has been concluded on Sunday.

Embassy staff were also encountering challenges in cases where undocumented South African women were insisting on travelling to Zimbabwe with their husbands.

“So far, we’ve 10 undocumented South African women who are insisting on going to Zimbabwe with their husbands. We also have 120 Zimbabweans who left their properties under the attack of South Africans. These will collect their property tomorrow (Thursday) with the assistance of the police,” he said.

The majority of people at the Chatsworth Camp were women and children, the ambassador said.

There are several shelters that have been established around Durban, but Chatsworth Camp is the largest holding centre.

Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi last night said the government was “seized” with the matter, without elaborating.

Information Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo and his Water and Climate counterpart Saviour Kasukuwere yesterday both used Twitter to draw attention to the on-going carnage.

The targeting of fellow Africans by armed South African mobs was “worse than apartheid”, said Kasukuwere, who is also Zanu-PF’s national commissar.

“These attacks are a shame on us as Africans. Honestly, treating each other worse than apartheid is sad,” the minister said.

Prof Moyo said Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini should bear the cross for “igniting the fires of xenophobia” after telling a Durban radio station, Gagasi FM, that immigrants were “lice” and should all leave South Africa. The Zulu king has been backtracking since after anti-foreigner attacks swept through Durban.

“I just heard an audio of King (Goodwill) Zwelithini’s xenophobic statements as recorded by Gagasi FM. It’s a crime against humanity, Rwanda-style,” said Prof Moyo, referring to the Rwandan genocide in which radio was used to direct tribal massacres.

King Zwelithini is heard saying in the Gagasi FM audio: “We must remove these lice from our heads and let them burn in the sun. All foreigners in South Africa are lice.”

South African media reported that President Zuma’s son, Edward, called on the government to “put a stop to unnecessarily accommodating foreign nationals”. He said he was not speaking for the ANC leader.

Prof Moyo said so far, official statements in South Africa on xenophobic attacks sounded elicited. He urged the neighbouring country to act on xenophobia.

“What’s important to note is that the South African government has an obligation under the Vienna Declaration to prevent xenophobia within its borders through a programme of action. What’s needed is action not words,” said the minister.

South Africa’s State Security Minister David Mahlobo was yesterday quoted in the media as saying xenophobia was under control.

Mahlobo, who was addressing local traders and small business owners at the eThekwini City Hall, said the attacks on foreigners were barbaric and inhumane.

“We condemn the act in the strongest terms. Don’t let people use our name to commit criminal acts in our country, whether you’re South African or a foreign national,” said Mahlobo.

“We’ve heard that local traders say that foreigners are taking their jobs. We want to tell you that we’re on top of the situation, we know that we’re dealing with a big problem.

“We can’t, as South Africans, attack foreigners. That’s not the peace or friendship that’s enshrined in the constitution. Let’s stand together and say, ‘not in our name!’”

Yesterday, there was widespread disruption to business in Johannesburg as gangs moved around looting foreign-owned shops and attacking the owners. Many businesses were forced to close.

As evening fell in downtown Johannesburg, foreign shops remained closed.

There was a heavy police presence in Jeppestown after hostel dwellers stoned passing vehicles and injured one motorist ahead of alleged planned attacks on foreigners last night.

Police revealed that 74 people had been arrested countrywide for various crimes ranging from murder to being in possession of dangerous weapons.

Jacob Zuma calls for calm

SOUTH African President Jacob Zuma has asked to address parliament today after six people died in xenophobic attacks in KwaZulu-Natal, which had spread to Johannesburg yesterday. A pre-recorded interview with Zuma – who had not spoken publicly since last Friday – was broadcast on SABC’s SAFM last night and played on the public broadcaster’s news bulletins.

“What’s happening in our country is not acceptable,” Zuma said while appealing for calm. “We condemn this, that people are attacked and killed.”

The ANC leader, who has set up a ministerial task force to deal with the crisis, added: “We can’t accept that when there’re challenges, we use violence particularly on our brothers and sisters from the continent.

“I would like to convey my condolences to the victims and to those who have lost their loved ones. I think this must stop because we cannot continue killing one another. We’re calling for calm so that we should solve these problems.”

SA celebs rally against xenophobia

Bongani Ndlovu Showbiz Correspondent
SOUTH Africa’s celebrities yesterday took to Twitter to condemn violent attacks on foreigners. Over the past week, at least five people have been killed and shops owned by black foreigners looted after an outbreak of xenophobic violence in Durban, three months after raids on foreign shop owners in Soweto. Over 1,000 foreigners from Zimbabwe, Burundi, Malawi and Mozambique have been displaced because of the attacks.

Some of the celebrities were using the #NoToXenophobia hash tag to deliver their messages.

Hip hop artiste AKA said: “Xenophobia is disgusting. In fact, as a South African, I feel embarrassed.”

Gospel singer Sifiso Ncwane also joined in and added that people should stop pirating their music.

“No to xenophobia. And No to fake CDs, we have to stop this please,” he wrote.

DJ Fresh urged his fans to spread the message of denouncing xenophobia.

“Spread the message!!! #NoToXenophobia #AfricaUnite.”

Television beauty, Boitumelo Thulo, tweeted: “… and far beyond African, I am A HUMAN, just like the humans who are being attacked!! STOP!!! #NoToXenophobia.”

Veteran music producer Robbie Malinga urged his countrymen to love their fellow Africans.

“Mzansi let’s all say no to xenophobia, we are all Africans. Let’s love each other and not kill each other.”

DJ Black Coffee was of the same sentiments: “We Are One #NotoXenophobia #WakeUpAfrica.”

Zulu king who lacks goodwill and abets xenophobic attacks

Bernard Bwoni–
THE inequalities from South Africa’s apartheid era remain unresolved and the anger and resentment continue to simmer into deep-rooted and irrational contempt for foreigners. That could just be an excuse some may say, maybe South Africans are inherently “nasty” and hate foreigners? That of course is a broad generalisation because not all South Africans hate foreigners.

South Africa as a nation has enjoyed cordial relations with its neighbours and all other African countries.

President Jacob Zuma recently welcomed President Mugabe into South Africa for a state visit and the love and respect for the two neighbours was all evident for the world to see.

There are many foreigners who get on with their lives alongside South Africans and are made to feel at home.

However, the recent irresponsible and ill-thought remarks by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini have certainly boosted xenophobic feelings in South African communities and have seen the escalation of heinous killings of foreigners.

It could be a total collapse of the social and moral fabric that is driving these despicable and illegal cremations of foreigners. Unfortunately King Zwelithini’s (where is the Goodwill in that?) comments seem to have legitimised xenophobic attacks in the “rainbow nation”.

As things stand in South Africa, this situation has barely been addressed as there is widespread impunity for acts of xenophobia and insufficient, if any, official condemnation.

It is as if the authorities condone these deplorable acts of violence on foreigners, no let me rephrase that, “as if the authorities condone such despicable acts of violence on Africans”.

The first person who should have shown “goodwill” and come out condemning such abominable and inhuman acts is King Zwelithini but he has since gone into hiding whilst foreigners continue to be incinerated alive.

Yes, I mean burn as in someone lighting a match and setting a human being on fire in front of jeering and cheering crowds. Whole communities that is. It is all thanks to the King with “Goodwill”.

The South African authorities have to launch urgent public campaigns to denounce xenophobia and there is no other way of correcting this crude ailment that has pervaded the “rainbow nation”.

There have to be consequences for torching another human being, period! These shocking attacks on Africans by South Africans deserve urgent attention; people being burnt alive deserve urgent and immediate redress. It is not enough for President Zuma to simply say “stop killing foreigners” because this is not going to stop the murders.

King Zwelithini’s comments should have received official condemnation right from the start before they set the veld fire. The king himself should have come out publicly stating that he was quoted out of context or denouncing these hate crimes.

There are numerous videos of foreigners being burnt alive in South Africa and that is happening in the full glare of whole communities. There are some harrowing and gut-wrenching videos of children fatally feeling the full impact of the xenophobic purge in South Africa.

And the perpetrators are unforgiving as they traumatise the defenceless foreign victims. It is always the poor and most vulnerable who get caught up in these unimaginable acts of barbarity.

There is a video of four young persons with their hands tied and car tyres round their necks. One of them is just a little boy, barely a teenager looking dazed, confused and unaware of the cruel fate that was about to befall him.

The despair, the forlorn sense of defeat, the hopelessness and helplessness was heart-breaking to watch. The gloom on the poverty-stricken faces, despondent end of hope and the emotions of despair were all too unsettling to even watch the burning itself. The little boy was innocently looking around the unforgiving mob that had encircled them for the purpose of the human bonfire seemingly oblivious to the impending torment and torture that awaited him.

The trauma was evidently erased by the sure dearth of hope. This is not meant to blackmail readers emotionally, but rather the reality of humans being burnt alive for being foreigners in South Africa.

That is one of the most distressing scenes of human barbarity ever captured on video and yes they all met their end ablaze. The thing that worried me the most was the gathering community that jeered and cheered at such inhuman behaviour.

The young boy alongside four others was set alight in the full glare of the community. A member of the gathering community handed over the box of matches to the men who were meticulously making the preparations for this unethical burning ceremony.

This begs the question, was it the man who lit the match or the individual who handed over that match to burn these children responsible? No, it was not an individual who did that, it was not an individual who handed over the matches but the whole community did.

Every single person who stood by watching and did nothing handed over that match and took part in the gruesome murders. The king who is supposed to have ‘goodwill’ might as well have handed over that match with his irresponsible utterances.

By handing over that box of matches and everyone letting it go unchallenged the whole community participated in this murder and subsequent murders against foreigners in South Africa.

I am hurt for them all especially the little boy who had his hands tied behind his back and too traumatised to show any signs of fear. It starts with being irresponsible and labelling nationalities as King Goodwill Zwelithini did in his “foreigners must pack their bags and go home” statement.

Society takes cue from such irresponsibility. The innocence on the little boy’s face before he was set ablaze is haunting and heart breaking. It is a harrowing and distressing depiction of the hideous face of xenophobia in South Africa. My brothers and sisters from the “rainbow nation” cheering and jeering as human beings are burnt alive just for being foreigners.

Where is the compassion, the conscience and that degree of self-control that separates us from animals? How can a whole community stand and watch as young defenceless souls are set alight not in random acts but carefully planned manner?

Any society that stands by and watches such savagery and brutality without objection is difficult to classify as a developed society. That is an opinion not a fact and most likely the level of violence inflicted on these young men evoked so much emotion that might cause opinions to overlap with facts and vice-versa.

There is a sense of denial in terms of accepting responsibility and accountability for such actions by society collectively. Compassion, philanthropy and empathy are the hallmarks of any nurtured and matured society.

How any society treats the most vulnerable, how any society accepts the most vulnerable and how any society welcomes the vulnerable from outside is what distinguishes it from the animal kingdom.

A degree of self-control and that empathic outlook sets us wide apart from animals. This is about what individuals or groups of individuals collectively are prepared to do and prepared to forego to put themselves on a path towards a matured society. The senseless brutality associated with xenophobia is happening in the full glare of society and not a single soul raised any objections. —

XENOPHOBIA ATTACKS GRIP SA…Zim sounds ‘genocide’ warning

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 abating. 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.

One hundred and fifty foreign nationals had to take refuge in a building after being attacked by a crowd. 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.

South African president Jacob Zuma said that several cabinet members had been assigned to KwaZulu Natal to work with local officials to quell the unrest.

Zuma said the government is addressing “complaints about illegal and undocumented migrants, the takeover of local shops and other businesses by foreign nationals as well as perceptions that foreign nationals perpetrate crime,” and added that legal migrants contribute significantly to the country’s economy.

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 the 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,” 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 can’t 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.

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 burned 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 at least one million 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 xenophobia 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”.

Editorial Comment: SA government must stop xenophobic attacks

WE are appalled at the escalating xenophobic attacks currently underway in South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal province and call on the government of President Jacob Zuma to do all it can to stop them. Mobs of South African nationals are roaming the townships of Durban and other surrounding areas wantonly looting shops, burning them and attacking foreigners who run them in sickening scenes reminiscent of the violence which engulfed Gauteng province in 2008.

More than 2,000 foreigners, mostly Ethiopians, Malawians, Congolese and Zimbabweans are homeless and have sought shelter in makeshift camps and we are worried for their safety. Some of them have lost all of their belongings and sources of livelihood after their homes were torched and shops burnt and looted by crazed gangs that appear to be a law unto themselves.

The police appear heavily outnumbered or reluctant to confront the mobs who have been unleashing a reign of terror for the past weeks. Criminals have also taken advantage of the situation and joined the bandwagon. As of yesterday, the death toll stood at seven according to South African media reports. The government of Malawi yesterday reportedly began the voluntary repatriation of its citizens while President Zuma is reported to have dispatched three ministers to KZN to deal with the situation.

Four people were killed and shops were looted and burnt as violence between residents and foreign nationals escalated in Durban at the weekend. Those killed included an Ethiopian, whose shop was petrol bombed last week, an immigrant whose nationality was not immediately known and two South Africans, police spokesman Thulani Zwane said on Monday. Police said 28 people have been arrested for looting and torching immigrants’ shops and were due to appear in the Ntuzuma Magistrate’s Court.

Agency reports said on Sunday night a mob set upon foreigners at KwaMashu’s A-Section hostel, and the township’s B and D-sections. Several police vehicles that responded were stoned. Residents in neighbouring Avoca Hills reported they could hear screams, and what sounded like gunshots. In Varsity Drive, Reservoir Hills, another mob, carrying sticks and grass cutters, attacked foreigners. A resident said the mob was going to various tuck shops, owned by foreigners, and looting them.

Yesterday, the children displaced by the attacks did not go back to school. Sinikiwe Sibanda, a Zimbabwean woman, told the Reuters agency that she had just returned from an Easter break in Zimbabwe with her four-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son when they were attacked and forced out of their informal settlement home.

“We can’t even go back for their uniforms,” she said. A witness told of horrific scenes in Durban’s Umlazi Township where marauding gangs were attacking foreigners and looting their shops.

“This is like a war zone. It’s like we’re in Syria. I’ve never seen such cruelty,” he told news agency AFP.

Xenophobia is now a perennial problem in South Africa and the government there should find ways of addressing it in a holistic manner. Most foreigners who run spaza shops are in South Africa legally and invest their hard earned money to open them. It is not their problem that locals lack the business acumen they possess and the South African government should make it clear to its citizens that looting and burning foreign-owned shops will not help improve their lot. Granted, there is grinding poverty in some sections of these xenophobic hotspots but attacking foreign nationals just because they appear to be running thriving businesses is the height of irresponsibility and barbarism which have no place in modern society.

The law should be allowed to take its course and the perpetrators of xenophobic attacks must be brought to book. We urge the South African government to deal ruthlessly with these lumpen elements out to tarnish the image of that country. We are sure South Africa does not want to appear like a nation that does not tolerate nationals of other countries and we have faith in the government of President Zuma that it will tackle the problem head on and nip it in the bud.

Traditional leaders such as King Goodwill Zwelithini should be reminded that it is not a coincidence that xenophobic attacks began soon after he made some unfortunate remarks about foreigners needing to go back to their countries.

Now that his subjects have latched onto those misguided utterances, we hope he sleeps soundly at night after watching the horrific scenes playing out in the streets of Umlazi and other KZN townships.

Artistes unite against xenophobia -threaten to boycott Big Nuz, Cassper Nyovest shows

Bongani Ndlovu and Rutendo Kanogoiwa Showbiz Reporters
ZIMBABWEAN artistes have called for a boycott of South African musicians’ shows here as a protest over xenophobic attacks gripping South Africa. They said there was no reason for merrymaking with South African artistes when some Zimbabweans based in that country are being killed. Five people were reportedly killed after an outbreak of xenophobic violence in Durban over the weekend, three months after attacks on foreign shop owners in Soweto. Over 1,000 foreigners from Zimbabwe, Burundi, Malawi and Mozambique have been displaced because of the attacks.

As a result, artistes from Bulawayo and Harare this week united against the xenophobic attacks challenging artistes in South Africa to come out and demand an end to the violence targeted at foreigners residing there.

A lobby group — Bulawayo anti-xenophobic movement (Baxem) has since been formed to fight xenophobia in the region by raising awareness through social media networking sites.

Yesterday, Baxem members could be seen removing posters of the forthcoming Big Nuz and Cassper Nyovest shows in Bulawayo.

“We can’t mourn and party at the same time. Our brothers and sisters went to South Africa to work and now they’re getting killed.

“The artistes there should raise awareness about this hateful crime to humanity that’s being perpetrated by their fans, before coming to Zimbabwe,” Baxem spokesperson, Nqobile Malikongwa said.

He challenged Zimbabweans to boycott the South Africans’ shows if that country’s artistes do not condemn xenophobia.

Malikongwa said Big Nuz which comes from Durban where most of the violence is occurring needed to condemn the violence from their base first before attempting to fly to Bulawayo for their show on Friday.

Zim dancehall artiste — Centre Party said failure by South African artistes to condemn the violence would result in them refusing to perform or attend the shows they stage here.

“We’re all black Africans. All we want is to spread the message that we’re not happy about the way our fellow family members are being treated in the neighbouring country. Surprisingly, these artistes get our support through our attendance and money which they use to boost their economy yet they choose to ill-treat fellow Zimbabweans,” Centre Party said.

Afro-jazz musician Willis Wataffi, Sandra Ndebele-Sibindi and Mbo Mahocs, among other artistes united to call for a peaceful demonstration at the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport in Bulawayo on Friday when Big Nuz touch down. Artistes in Harare revealed plans to stage theirs at the South African Embassy.

Promoters of the Big Nuz and Cassper Nyovest shows refused to comment.

A disappointed South Africa-based Zimbabwean dancehall artiste Buffalo Souljah took to his Facebook page yesterday to express his anger.

“During apartheid South African nationals sought refuge in our homelands as they fought for their freedom now we’re hunted like animals here.

“Where is the UN, African Union and Sadc when blood is spilt on African soil? Or will you take action if a European, Asian, American living in South Africa is attacked?

“If this continues then we’re going to petition against any South African activities in Africa be it sport, music and film,” said Big Buffs as he is affectionately known.

“If Zimbabweans contribute over a 100 billion rand a year to the nation’s GDP, then how much do we contribute as a collective in Africa?”

Winky D, who is meant to perform with Cassper Nyovest on April 25 expressed concern over the brutal attacks.

“There’s no justification to what’s happening in South Africa. I’m in support of anything upholding humanity as long as it’s in a peaceful and civilised way,” Winky D said.

Comedian — Babongile Sikhonjwa said they were planning to embark on a campaign involving a song, photos and videos to condemn the xenophobic attacks.

“After a heated argument we’ve agreed as artistes to do a campaign targeting the South African personalities in the arts so as to raise awareness about the violence in their country.

“We’ll do this through producing songs, video clips and posters that condemn the violence,” Sikhonjwa said.

He said more South African artistes should take a leaf from DJs Sbu, Oskido, AKA and Buffalo Souljah who have denounced the violence.

“Xenophobia is disgusting . . . In fact, as a South African, I feel embarrassed,” tweeted AKA yesterday.

DJ Sbu recently changed his Twitter status to: “IsayNotoXenophobia”.

Gruesome videos on social media networking sites — Twitter, WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram are doing the rounds showing tyres being placed round foreigners’ necks, with the perpetrators pouring petrol and burning the victims alive in front of cheering crowds.

Foreigners’ shops are being targeted, looted and burnt down in the attacks.

With heads bowed in shame

Thabo Mbeki—
SOUTH Africa is in the grips of a fast-spreading wave of xenophobic attacks on foreigners by poor locals who claim they have taken their jobs and blame them for crime. In 2008, after a similar outbreak of violence which exclusively targeted fellow black Africans, the then President Thabo Mbeki delivered this impassioned speech:

Directors of Ceremony,

Ministers, Deputy Ministers, Premiers, Mayors and members of all spheres of Government,

Your Excellencies, Diplomatic Representatives of the sister nations of the world,

Representatives of communities which live and work side by side with our immigrant population,

Leaders of political parties,

Comrades, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Fellow South Africans:

I’m privileged to participate in this important Gathering of Remembrance to honour fellow Africans from our country and other parts of the African continent whose lives were needlessly ended through the criminal violence which erupted in various localities in our country in May this year.

Many of us present here today view ourselves as the offspring of forebears who advanced a noble vision starting 150 years ago – the vision of Africans, on our Continent and the Diaspora, free at last, proud of themselves and their heritage, and united in their resolve to combine in a mighty force of liberation to uplift themselves.

I speak here of the Rev Tiyo Soga. More than 140 years ago, Tiyo Soga wrote about the unity of all Africans both on the Continent and the Diaspora. Writing to salute the struggle of the African-Americans for freedom from slavery during the American Civil War, he said the African-Americans were “looking forward to the dawn of a better day for (the African-American) and all his sable brethren in Africa.”

I also speak here of J.G. Xaba. A hundred and ten (1897) years ago, J.G. Xaba, one of the founders of the Ethiopian church movement in our country, said “the aim of the Ethiopian church is to promote… unity in the whole continent of Africa.”

I speak too of Pixley ka Isaka Seme. A hundred (1906) years ago, Pixley Seme celebrated the grandeur and dignity of all Africans in the following and famous moving passages:

“I would ask you not to compare Africa to Europe or to any other continent. I make this request not from any fear that such comparison might bring humiliation upon Africa. The reason, I’ve stated – a common standard is impossible! Come with me to the ancient capital of Egypt, Thebes, the city of one hundred gates. The grandeur of its venerable ruins and the gigantic proportions of its architecture reduce to insignificance the boasted monuments of other nations.

“The pyramids of Egypt are structures to which the world presents nothing comparable. The mighty monuments seem to look with disdain on every other work of human art and to vie with nature herself. All the glory of Egypt belongs to Africa and her people. These monuments are the indestructible memorials of their great and original genius.

“It’s not through Egypt alone that Africa claims such unrivalled historic achievements. I could’ve spoken of the pyramids of Ethiopia, which, though inferior in size to those of Egypt, far surpass them in architectural beauty; their sepulchres which evince the highest purity of taste, and of many prehistoric ruins in other parts of Africa. In such ruins Africa is like the golden sun, that, having sunk beneath the western horizon, still plays upon the world which he sustained and enlightened in his career…

“Oh, for that historian who, with the open pen of truth, will bring to Africa’s claim the strength of written proof. He will tell of a race whose onward tide was often swelled with tears, but in whose heart bondage hasn’t quenched the fire of former years. He will write that in these later days when Earth”s noble ones are named, she has a roll of honour too, of whom she isn’t ashamed.

“The giant is awakening! From the four corners of the earth Africa’s sons, who’ve been proved through fire and sword, are marching to the future’s golden door bearing the records of deeds of valour done.”

The visionary words spoken by Tiyo Soga in the 7th decade of the 19th century gave birth to the historic goal enunciated by J.G. Xaba in the 10th decade of the same century, and this, in turn, inspired Pixley Seme’s prophetic imagining during the 1st decade of the 20th century, which foretold of the future golden door of freedom.

It’s on these foundations, which are more than a hundred-and-fifty years old, that generations of our people built a great edifice of African hope, Africa’s oldest liberation movement, the African National Congress.

It’s from this Mother of Hope that we’ve drawn the nourishment that has defined and taught us who and what we want to be, a Mother of Hope who must fight through all time to remain the Mother of Hope she has been for many generations.

As we’ve grown up, because of where we’ve suckled, we’ve therefore always known that we belong among the teeming millions of Africans in Africa and the Diaspora, an inalienable part of these masses.

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’re part, a common destiny.

We’ve also always striven to combine with all Africans in Africa and the Diaspora in one united, gigantic, open conspiracy and effort to restore to ourselves our collective human dignity, based on the unshakeable conviction that no African anywhere will be free until all Africans everywhere are free.

Because we’ve, at all times, known of the grandeur and originality of Africa and the Africans, of which Pixley Seme spoke, of the indelible valour of the African heroes and heroines proved through fire and sword, of whom Pixley Seme wrote, we’ve known that as Africa and Africans, acting together, we’ll achieve our Renaissance, our rebirth.

We’ve constantly thought it self-evident that, as Pixley ka Isaka Seme had said, the regeneration of Africa would come to be, and would mean that “a new and unique civilisation would soon be added to the world…(whose) essential departure (would be) that it’s thoroughly spiritual and humanistic — indeed a regeneration moral and eternal!”

And yet we, the offspring and heirs to the noble spirit and vision of African unity and solidarity advanced by our own giants of thought and action, Tiyo Soga, J.G. Xaba and Pixley Seme, have gathered here today with heads bowed in shame because it has seemed that what happened in our country in May betrayed the dreams of many generations, including our own.

We’ve gathered here today to convey to all Africans everywhere, to all African nations, severally and collectively, to our own people, and to the families of people who were murdered, our sincere condolences, and our heartfelt apologies that Africans in our country committed unpardonable crimes against other Africans.

We’ve convened here to express our pain that, today, we’ve fellow Africans from various African countries — Somalia, the DRC, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Malawi — and others, who are quarantined in temporary camps, separated from the African communities in which they lived peacefully as fellow-Africans, until the dark days of May that descended upon them without warning.

We’re meeting here, today, to pledge that:

●  we will do everything necessary to ensure that as Africans, regardless of our geographic origins, we will once more live together as Africans, at peace with one another, refusing to impose on ourselves a new apartheid order;

● we’ll work expeditiously to achieve the reintegration of all the displaced Africans within the communities from which they were forced to flee because of murderous criminal activities;

● we’ll do everything necessary to assist the victims of this criminal onslaught, both the South Africans and our foreign guests, to resume their normal lives;

● we’ll act without any unnecessary delay to address all genuine concerns which may give birth to tensions between the native and immigrant Africans;

● as we work to improve our social and national cohesion, we’ll also address the challenge to entrench the understanding that this includes full acceptance within all our communities of new residents from other countries, as well as the understanding among the latter that we welcome them as good neighbours and citizens;

● we’ll work to mobilise all our communities to isolate and defeat the evil elements in our midst who target vulnerable African migrants, subjecting them to violent attacks for criminal purposes and personal gain;

● we’ll ensure that all those responsible for the criminal activities during the dark days of May, targeted against African migrants, face the full might of the law; and,

● we’ll take all necessary and possible measures to sustain respect for the law and our Constitutional order by all who live in our country, and the safety and security of all these, whether native-born or immigrant.

As many were killed or maimed during the dark days of May, thousands displaced, businesses and homes looted, and homes and businesses destroyed by arson, I heard it said insistently that my people have turned or have become xenophobic.

The word xenophobia means a deep antipathy towards or hatred of foreigners. When I heard some accuse my people of xenophobia, of hatred of foreigners, I wondered what the accusers knew about my people, which I didn’t know.

Over many years I’ve visited many parts of our country, both urban and rural, in all our provinces, and met many people from other countries, including African countries, who haven’t hesitated to announce their countries of origin.

On occasion I’ve been amazed to hear people in the Western Cape introduce themselves as migrants from Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo. On occasion I’ve been amazed to hear people in small towns of Mpumalanga introduce themselves as migrants from Somalia. On occasion I’ve been amazed to hear people in Western Gauteng introduce themselves as migrants from Mozambique.

On these and other occasions I’ve known that these immigrants could thus openly introduce themselves because they knew, from their experience, that because they hadn’t experienced any xenophobia, they had no need to hide their countries of origin.

I’ve been to Guinea Conakry, at the upper end of the Gulf of Guinea on the African west coast. The Guineans told me of their fellow nationals who live in our country and tell their relatives and government of how they’ve made our country their new home.

Everything I know about my people tells me that these heirs to the teachings of Tiyo Soga, J.G. Xaba and Pixley Seme, the masses who’ve consistently responded positively to the Pan-African messages of the oldest liberation movement on our Continent, the African National Congress, aren’t xenophobic.

These masses are neither antipathetic towards, nor do they hate foreigners. And this I must also say — none in our society has any right to encourage or incite xenophobia by trying to explain naked criminal activity by cloaking it in the garb of xenophobia.

I know that there are some in our country who will charge that what I’ve said constitutes a denial of our reality.

However, I dare say that if anyone convenes residents of Nkomazi in Mpumalanga, Hammanskaraal, Atteridgeville, Alexandra Township, Diepsloot, Orange Farm, Ekurhuleni, Motherwell, Khayelitsha, Inanda, and stays to listen to these ordinary South Africans, none will hear our people say we should attack immigrants, or that they hate these because they’re foreigners.

And yet, despite everything I’ve said, we’ve, as native South Africans, gathered here today with heads bowed in shame, because of the immense pain and fear about the future that some among us deliberately inflicted on fellow Africans in our country, who originate from other lands on our Continent and elsewhere in the world.

In spite of this reality, I will not hesitate to assert that my people aren’t diseased by the terrible affliction of xenophobia which has, in the past, led to the commission of the heinous crime of genocide.

I will not hesitate to say that the cultures of all our people, black and white, and despite the many centuries of racism imposed on our society by force of arms, continue to inform the overwhelming majority of our homesteads that they should welcome all visitors and travellers in a spirit of friendship and human compassion.

I will not hesitate to say that despite the centrifugal impulses generated by colonialism and apartheid leading to the dissipation of the human instinct towards human solidarity, my people, still, harbour in their hearts a deep-seated respect for the practice immanent in the outlook described as Ubuntu, to give water, food and refuge to the traveller.

As a people, we fully understand the proverb of the people of Madagascar that it’s not the fire in the fireplace which warms the house, but the people who get along well.

Still, we, the offspring and heirs to the noble spirit and vision of African unity and solidarity advanced by our own giants of thought and action, Tiyo Soga, J.G. Xaba and Pixley Seme, have gathered here today with heads bowed in shame, because some in our communities acted in ways that communicated the message that the values of Ubuntu are dead, and that they lie entombed in the graves of the cadavers of people who died ostensibly solely because they came among us as travellers in search of refuge.

Obviously and needless to say, we have a common responsibility to explain this conundrum — the seeming disjuncture which sets in opposition one to the other, what we pride ourselves about who and what we are, and what our practical actions broadcast about who and what we really are.

The dark days of May which have brought us here today were visited on our country by people who acted with criminal intent. What happened during these days wasn’t inspired by a perverse nationalism, or extreme chauvinism, resulting in our communities violently expressing the hitherto unknown sentiment of mass and mindless hatred of foreigners — xenophobia.

Those who have eyes to see will have seen that much of the violence we experienced was targeted at the immigrants who had property to loot. Those who have eyes to see will have seen that the majority of the immigrants who live in conditions of poverty as do many of our people weren’t attacked.

Those who have eyes to see will have seen that in other disturbances in the past, allegedly occasioned by so-called service failures of municipal councils, small shops owned by immigrants have been looted.

We’re confronted by the reality that, objectively, it will take a considerable period of time before we achieve our objective of providing a better life for all our people. Objectively, therefore, together with the masses of our people as a conscious agent of change, we must continue to manage the reality of unfulfilled expectations.

As we’ve said before, like other countries in Africa and elsewhere in the world, we’re going through a very difficult period of rising food and fuel prices, higher costs of borrowing, rising inflation, and therefore the erosion of the living standards of especially the poor.

None of us can be happy or satisfied with this reality.

At the same time we must recognise the reality, and work continuously to oppose it, that some in our midst will seek to exploit this to attack the immigrants in our midst, falsely blaming them for our woes, seeking to use their vulnerability to loot their possessions for personal gain, as happened during the dark days of May.

Today, gathered here as a representative microcosm of our country, we must reaffirm that we remain loyal heirs of our noble forebears, Tiyo Soga, J.G. Xaba, Pixley Seme and the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for our liberation, and therefore will continue, as Africans, to be our brothers’ and our sisters’ keepers.

Today, gathered here as a representative microcosm of our country, we must reaffirm that we’re committed to the sustained pursuit of the goal of the regeneration of Africa and the African Diaspora, based on the unshakeable understanding that we’re to one another, as Africans, brothers and sisters.

Today, gathered here as a representative microcosm of our country, we must pledge that never again will we allow that anybody brings shame to our nation by betraying the values of Ubuntu and committing crimes against our visitors and travellers, thus to besmirch the character of the eminently good human beings who constitute our nation as a people afflicted by the cancerous disease of xenophobia.

Today, gathered here as a representative microcosm of our country, and proud of our people’s pioneering and vanguard role in the struggle for the emancipation of all Africans and the restoration of their dignity, we must make the solemn undertaking that we, as leaders and representatives of our people, will continue to act as servants of the African peoples, determined to combat all tendencies that lead to the dissolution of African cohesion and solidarity at the altar of the pursuit of the pernicious goal of personal gain and aggrandisement.

Today, gathered here as a representative microcosm of our country, we must state that we know that the problems of our country and Continent will not be solved by declarations and demands, and suggestions that we’ve instant solutions to address long-standing and complicated challenges.

I thank you for taking the trouble to gather here this afternoon. Let everybody who comes to learn of this occasion and everything that was said this afternoon, understand the unalterable truths that:

● as Africans we’ll never abandon the values of Ubuntu;

● as Africans we’ll never become enemies of other Africans;

● we define ourselves as Africans because we belong within the family of the billion Africans who live in Africa and the Africa Diaspora, who are linked to one another by a common destiny;

● we’re proudly African, not only because of our indelible contribution to human civilisation, but also because we know that the regeneration of Africa will add new humane values to human society, as demonstrated by the many in our society who rallied to provide assistance to and reintegrate the thousands of displaced fellow Africans;

● as South Africans, who fought for more than three centuries to achieve the dignity of all Africans and all human beings, regardless of race, colour, and gender, we will never allow that we fall victim to the criminal perversion of xenophobia, which, in earlier times, led to the genocidal destruction of entire peoples in the Americas, South Africa and Australia, and, more recently, the Jewish Holocaust in Europe and the Genocide in Rwanda; and,

● as South Africans, who know the value of international solidarity and Pan-Africanism, we’ll continue to extend a hand of help to all other Africans whether in Haiti or the Central African Republic; Somalia, Guinea Bissau or Comoros; Sudan, Niger or Zimbabwe.

On behalf of our people and Government I humbly convey to our people, our foreign guests, all Africa and the peoples of the world, our apology that we allowed criminals in our midst to inflict terrible pain and damage to many in our society, including and particularly our foreign guests.

We’ll do everything possible and necessary to ensure that we’ve no need in future to proffer this humble apology, which is inspired by genuine remorse.

Thank you.

We must look after our fellow Africans — Mbete

CAPE Town – National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete has ordered ANC leaders to return the favour other African countries offered, when its members were in exile during apartheid, and stop xenophobic attacks. Mbete appealed to the ruling party to take the lead and stop sitting back and watching attacks on foreign nationals.

Speaking at the Limpopo Provincial General Council in Polokwane over the weekend, she told delegates that xenophobic attacks in South Africa had put the ANC “in a difficult position on the continent”.

She said during the first xenophobic attacks, ANC leaders had faced difficult questions, not only from the opposition, but from the rest of the continent as well.

“Many African leaders still regard the ANC as their party, and also founded their political parties after being inspired by the ANC agenda at the time,” she said.

“So let’s be willing today, when we’re busy assaulting foreigners we need to remember that the ANC belongs to the rest of Africa, and that’s why the rest of Africa hosted the ANC when it needed Africa.

“They looked after us, so sometimes when you watch the things we do to Africans from the rest of the continent it’s very… very embarrassing.”

Mbete said alliance leaders should unite and called for an end to “power bickering”.

“You can’t unite other people unless you’re united, Cosatu is disintegrating right before us. It’s sad, comrades,” she said.

South Africa has in the past been seen as a model for democracy for the African continent, but its reputation has been tarnished by waves of xenophobic attacks throughout the country.

Meanwhile, the Malawian government said yesterday it would help repatriate its citizens from South Africa following an outbreak of xenophobic violence in Durban that has left four people dead.

“The situation is really tense as about 360 Malawians are stranded in South Africa following xenophobic attacks there,” Information Minister Kondwani Nankhumwa told reporters.

He said the Malawians targeted had “lost everything”, including their passports.

The attacks on immigrant-owned shops and homes in Durban’s townships come three months after a similar spate of attacks on foreign-owned shops in Soweto.

In both cases, shops have been looted and foreign traders ordered to shut up shop.

Over 1,000 foreigners in Durban have fled their homes and are now living in temporary camps, under police guard.

Police spokesperson Thulani Zwane said the situation was “tense but under control”, with police deployed to patrol affected areas.

He said four people had been killed since the beginning of the month, including an Ethiopian man whose shop was petrol-bombed by a mob Friday night.

Nearly 50 people have been arrested — 28 on Sunday night alone.

Nankhumwa said the Malawian embassy in Pretoria had started processing temporary travel documents for its nationals.

Hundreds of Malawians escaping poverty back home move to South Africa every year in search of work.

Violence against migrants from other African countries is common in South Africa, with locals accusing foreigners of taking their jobs and business.

The government has condemned the violence, with President Jacob Zuma sending a team of ministers to assess the situation. — News24/AFP.

 Pietermaritzburg CBD at a standstill as looting spreads

Pietermaritzburg – The Pietermaritzburg CBD came to a standstill on Wednesday after looters ransacked foreign-owned shops, forcing owners to close doors in fear of further xenophobic attacks, The Witness reported.

People in the city centre along Church, East and Retief streets were left in a state of panic as police vans swarmed the streets, monitoring the escalating situation.

Streets became gridlocked and some were cordoned off.

Owners witnessed looting and said businesses which remained open were doing so at their own risk.

In Howick, a small group was going around trying to loot shops, many of which closed their doors, The Witness said.

“We are seeing sporadic instances of looting and intimidation of foreign nationals. It is not on the grand scale like we have in KwaMashu, but there have been flare-ups all over the province,” spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker told News24’s Jeff Wicks.

“We have responded accordingly.”

A well-placed police source said earlier: “We have had reports of looting in Retief Street and Timber Street. We are getting the owners to close up show now. This thing is spreading and we have already been busy all morning in the Mountain Rise area.”

At least five people have been killed in areas around Durban during several days of looting and violence against foreigners.

In Durban’s CBD on Tuesday, a car was set alight and police fired rubber bullets, stun grenades and teargas canisters in clashes between looters and foreigners.

A 14-year-old boy became the latest fatality on Monday night. He was shot dead during looting in KwaNdlanzi, allegedly by two security guards.

According to latest figures from the SA Police Service, 74 people have been arrested thus far for offences including murder, public violence, business robbery, theft and possession of firearms  and ammunition.-NEWS24

Zim minister’s views on xenophobia ‘hypocritical’

Harare – Former education minister David Coltart on Wednesday said that comments by a top official from President Robert Mugabe’s government slamming xenophobic violence in South Africa were “hypocrisy of the highest order”.

“One cannot pick and choose what types of xenophobia or racism are acceptable or not,” Coltart said in a Facebook post.

“One cannot say that it is fine to make inflammatory racist remarks against one race and then condemn xenophobia or racist behaviour directed against another group,” said the lawyer, who served as education minister during Zimbabwe’s 2009-13 coalition government.

Coltart was responding to Information Minister Jonathan Moyo.

Earlier this week Moyo had hit back at comments from the ANC’s Gwede Mantashe who said the governing South African party “had no desire to drive white people into the sea”.

Productive white farmers

Mantashe’s remarks may in part have been prompted by Mugabe’s declaration during a state visit to South Africa last week that he did not “want to see a white face”.

In his tweet hitting back at Mantashe, Moyo wrote: “We differ with the ANC on blacks!”

Coltart wrote: “To this day [Mugabe’s] Zanu-PF is still kicking productive white farmers off land, simply because they are whites who do not happen to support them.”

At least 13 white farmers have been killed and tens of thousands of black farm-workers have lost their jobs since Mugabe, now 91, began a programme of white farm takeovers in 2000.

The former education minister said many Zimbabweans who had fled to South Africa during recent years left due to a “succession of brutal and destructive policies implemented by Moyo’s party”.

Zimbabweans were on Wednesday mulling holding protests against xenophobia outside the South African embassy in Harare, according to social networking sites.-NEWS24

Nhleko against deploying SANDF to quell xenophobic attacks

Police Minister Nathi Nhleko says he doesn’t believe it is necessary to deploy South African National Defence Force (SANDF) soldiers in the Durban area where xenophobic attacks have claimed the lives of several people.

The violence spread from the townships around Durban to the city centre where foreign nationals armed and defended themselves against attacks. Nhleko says what is necessary is for South African people to change their attitude towards foreigners.

The minister says all energies across the country should actually be mobilised towards working on the South African psyche so that what is done is to confront all elements of under-development that we have in our society.

“It can’t be that it’s correct to hate somebody or attack somebody on the basis of origin.  The trends seem to indicate that it’s largely people of African origin that are targeted in this particular attack.”

Meanwhile, Africans within the country and in the diaspora have raised concerns regarding the ongoing attacks on foreign nationals in the greater eThekwini Metro in KwaZulu-Natal.

The Africa Solidarity Network, an organisation that looks at issues of social cohesion and integration, will launch the #NOT IN MY NAME campaign aimed at addressing the ongoing violence. Lives have been lost and thousands displaced since the start of the attacks almost two weeks ago.

We are not like that, there’s an element here that’s prone to deep sense of violence that’s using this as an opportunity to loot, to create fear, to plunder, to murder, to beat people and the tragedy is that most of us feel quite powerless about it

The Network’s Ashantewaa Ngidi says the campaign is to assist end the violence and promote co-existence. Ngidi says they will brief the media on the initiative at the Durban’s Bat Centre on Wednesday.

At the same time, the Democracy Development Programme says there are a number of complex reasons why locals feel threatened by foreign nationals. The Programme’s Executive Director, Rama Naidoo, was speaking after the organisation and the Durban University of Technology hosted a dialogue focusing on foreign nationals and migrants.

The dialogue discussed key factors on the current violent xenophobic attacks playing itself out in Durban. Naidoo says the current situation is sad.

According to Naidoo, “We are not like that, there’s an element here that’s prone to deep sense of violence that’s using this as an opportunity to loot, to create fear, to plunder, to murder, to beat people and the tragedy is that most of us feel quite powerless about it.”-SABC

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