||Rhodes' walls must fall! 30 April
|Speakers: Gcina Makoba, Bandile Mdlalose and China Ngubane
Date: Thursday, 30 April 2015
Venue: CCS Seminar Room 602, 6th Floor, MTB Tower, Howard College, University of KwaZulu-Natal (6th floor accessible through Memorial Tower Building lobby elevator)
The next stage of xenophobia is apparently a shift from crude, violent attacks to subtle, state pressure: the President, Department of Home Affairs, police and even the army are making the distinction between legal, well-skilled refugees who are useful, and illegal immigrants who must be rooted out. The vulnerability of refugees in this xenophobia maelstrom is a perfect opportunity, even if there is further risk to the South African brand as a result. Yet simultaneously, across the African continent, there has been an extraordinary upsurge of protest against the heavy-handed South African state and leading businesses, in capital city after capital city. The agenda of ordinary people is that the 1885 Berlin Conference Scramble for Africa borders are illogical and reactionary. These are Rhodes' walls - he wasn't in Berlin but British imperialism used the occasion to carve Africa to his future needs. If Rhodes' statue fell, should Rhodes' borders also be challenged? Capital flows freely but people don't. The latest round of xenophobia began in Durban a month ago, on March 30, and this is the right place to ask whether Durban activists can make the links to those who are aggrieved across our region.
Makoba, Mdlalose and Ngubane are CCS Dennis Brutus Scholars active in the fight against xenophobia locally and regionally.
Rhodes’ walls must fall
One Rhodes fell
Rhodes’ walls still stand
Rhodes’ walls don’t stop capital
the biggest SA firms penetrate Africa
Zuma’s son is a bitter boy who shames his father and his people
Bandile Mdlalose 29 April 2015
For two weeks, I have been sitting back and watching one of our country’s most prominent children. What impact does raising one of more than 20 kids, many before 1994 in exile, have on their morality? It is quite overwhelming to see the grown son of the most powerful man in South Africa act like a child that grew up in a home without discipline or education.
Today, we can say that Edward Zuma is xenophobic, even though he himself was born in Swaziland. And he is racist even though he was raised in the non-racial tradition of the African National Congress.
This is a very dangerous condition for the country, yet his father is condoning such behaviour, not even rising to the bait of Julius Malema in Parliament, who said on April 17, “Your own son continues to say these people must be killed...Your son is such a typical example of a family member you cannot whip in line.”
The controversy over Edward’s endorsement of King Zwelithini’s xenophobia is well known. At the same time, the website News24 published articles in which Edward attacked the writer Max du Preez. We should learn from this dispute.
Edward Zuma is racist because when Du Preez said that “It is high time the king of the Zulu is put in his place, he is not above the law or the Constitution,” this was Zuma’s reply: “He is a bitter old, white man… Max does not have traditional leaders and he needs to be reminded where he comes as an individual. King Goodwill Zwelithini is the king of the Zulus. If you are a Zulu, whether you are in Europe or in America, he is your king and if Max has a problem with that then he must pack himself and throw himself away and maybe then will he find himself.”
Where does Edward Zuma get the authority to decide that we Zulu people should consider Zwelithini our king, and who should and should not be in this country? It must be clear that no one owns this country, and that people who were in the struggle against apartheid cannot be called “bitter” just because they do not like the way Jacob Zuma’s government or King Zwelithini behave.
Du Preez is an “old man,” yes, and he fought racist white Afrikaners with heroism long before Edward was even born.
Du Preez has every right to express his sentiments about the King’s statement, and if Zuma is concerned at the disrespect expressed to the King, has he forgotten what the King said to the nation? “We urge all foreigners to pack their bags and leave.”
Just in case Edward Zuma has forgotten, let me take him back to the creation of this land. God created the heaven and earth for everyone as the image of him. When God created this land he gave us power of moving anywhere we want to go. Those powers were practiced by King Shaka and King Mzilikazi, and after they fought, Mzilikazi took many of our Khumalo people to Mozambique, Gauteng, and then Botswana, Zambia and finally back south to western Zimbabwe in the 1820s and 1830s.
These names meant nothing then. It was in Berlin in 1885 that the borders were carved out by white colonialists. Cecil John Rhodes made these borders barriers to our people then. That same poisonous mentality of dividing black people is what King Zwelithini and Edward Zuma suffer from today.
Edward Zuma, you need to understand that our Nguni people crossed many borders over the years. Yes, about 11 million of us are Zulu people living in South Africa, and 9 million are Xhosas. But another 2.3 million are Swazis, and there are about the same number of Ndebele people. Then there are an additional 2 million Ngoni people in Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi and Tanzania. All of us come from the same roots. Cecil Rhodes put up the walls, which you want to maintain at the cost of terrorising so many of our people.
As a Zulu woman, I see no disrespect in the sentiments of Du Preez, but I feel humiliation from the King’s statement. If he is my King, I am ashamed to consider myself a Zulu.
Du Preez was right when he said “South Africans should not simply sweep Zwelithini’s reckless statements on foreign nationals, the most obvious trigger of the latest wave of xenophobic attacks, under the carpet. Any influential public figure guilty of such provocative, irresponsible utterances should be forced to face the consequences of his actions.”
Nigerians have even referred this case to the International Criminal Court, who have agreed to look into it. We must not turn a blind eye, Edward Zuma, and I will lend my own support to anyone condemning the King’s statement.
Du Preez does not owe anyone any apology. The only person who owes the African continent an apology is the King himself, for his words have left many dead and thousands homeless. Thousands are returning to their Nguni homes thinking about this Zulu king, and thousands more are protesting at South African High Commissions and businesses in all these countries.
Du Preez does not disrespect any culture when he criticises xenophobia. Du Preez is right: the King must not be above the law. Innocent people get arrested when they protest for better service delivery under the charge, “inciting violence.” This is what the King did, because his words led to murders, assaults and lootings. But so far, no charges have been laid against him.
If South African law was just, the King should be behind bars by now, facing charges of incitement to violence. But because he is bigger than the law he still walks free.
I am saddened, because even the President of this country has had to face charges in court. Even President Nelson Mandela faced a judge when a racist white rugby administrator charged him in 1998. Why are prosecutors and the Human Rights Commission so slow to act against this King?
Edward Zuma asked about Du Preez, “Does he share the same sentiments about Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II?” This is also sad because it is a reflection of Edward’s poor quality education when it comes to country’s ethnicities.
But even if Du Preez was not an Afrikaner, we should not shift the focus of the crisis of South Africa to Britain’s outdated monarchy. The British are not the ones who attacked our fellow Africans in April. Let us as South Africans accept criticism where it is needed, and grow with responsibility.
This habit of shifting blame is growing in this country which is why we keep making the same mistakes all over again, because we are too good at blaming others for our mistake. While Edward Zuma questions Queen Elizabeth, did he also question his father Jacob about how long South Africa will be a puppet of foreign capital?
Maybe it about time we start questioning who shapes our policies of neoliberalism, which put 54% of our people below the poverty line. It’s not Queen Elizabeth this time, though in the past it might have been her ancestors. These days it is President Zuma’s failure to create jobs, build houses and redistribute the wealth of our country, because he follows the rules of global capital.
I wish to correct Edward Zuma when he says, “Our king is not living on crumbs. He is here because we support him”. Not all of us support the King, whose household budget was far higher than any other traditional leader last year: R64 million. Also last year, he had a R4 million party when he wed a 28 year old Swazi woman (his sixth wife), and he spent R10 000 on his birthday cake. He has 27 children, who are given the finest luxuries.
Yet we say we live in a democratic country. For a King who has so many taxpayer gifts, that xenophobic attitude did so much damage that it is time to ask whether Zwelithini should not just go to trial but have his budget cut as punishment.
This is also the time to open up discussions that will unite us as one Africa. It is not the time to play with verbal fire about alleged foreign drug dealers – not when you, Edward Zuma, were charged last year with illegally importing tobacco.
What has brought us to where we are so divided, is Cecil John Rhodes. Freedom will only arrive in South Africa when we agree that Rhodes’ Walls Must Fall. We need free movement which will end the nonsensical colonial idea of “illegal immigrants” on our continent.
In West Africa, the Ecowas passport gives all the countries’ peoples that right to ignore colonial boundaries. But in South Africa, the likes of Zwelithini, Edward Zuma and those who support them ignore the lesson that the University of Cape Town students taught us all: Rhodes’ borders should be considered illegal if what they do is produce illegal people, and if a so-called King and a President’s son turn Rhodes’ legacy into a permanent statue dripping with xenophobic blood.
Is Durban capable – and deserving – of hosting 2022 Commonwealth Games?
Bandile Mdlalose First Published in Pambazuka 25 April 2015
Durban has made a bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games. However, the city is built on a foundation of race and class inequality, leading to xenophobic attacks and unrest. Before Durban is ready to host any international events, it must become the strong African citizen it has promised to be by treating all of its citizens equally.
The past and the present have drawn us into a future of unfortunate and incalculable depth. How low will our society go?
Durban is a city known as a tourist capital for South Africa’s middle-class and even working-class. It is well-known for its great hosting capacity. Beautiful colonial buildings stretch up the Berea and fine hotels ring the bay stretching from Ballito to the Point.
Durban is also known for its public corruption, private wealth accumulation, elite unaccountability and protests. I have been to many community protests, nearly all because of the lack of basic services in the shack settlements and in townships.
The physical beauty of Durban can be found in the suburbs and beachfront, not in the black communities. There, rubbish is not collected, parks are scarce, public infrastructure is not maintained, landlords milk money from slums and jobs are lacking so residents are too poor to maintain their own properties. And now those areas have become a zone of hatred, bloodshed, ignorance and tribalism, receptive to hate speech from traditional leaders, regularly aflame.
The petrol flung on these hot embers by King Zwelithini during a ‘moral regeneration’ speech just before Easter sounded like this: ‘when you walk in the street you cannot recognise a shop that you used to know because it has been taken over by foreigners, who then mess it up by hanging amanikiniki [rags]’. He implied migrants were criminals and insisted, ‘Pack your bags and leave’.
As for the anti-xenophobia argument that the Frontline States had given hospitality to our own exiles during apartheid, Zwelithini’s arrogance turned it upside down: ‘When you [South African exiles] were in their countries you helped them to get their freedom. I know that other countries were liberated because of liberation armies from South Africa.’ (Before 1994, Zwelithini was allied with Inkatha and therefore with the apartheid regime running KwaZulu.)
In other words, he said, the migrants are economic parasites, and you South Africans don’t owe the foreigners anything. After this speech, foreigners were killed, chased away from their homes and jobs and suffered looting of their shops. Some politicians denied it was xenophobia, calling it merely ‘looting’, so it would be seen as a minor thing.
But after the president’s son, Edward Zuma, endorsed Zwelithini, no politician could duck the task of scrutinising the murderous phobia. Ignoring that there were Chinese, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and other Asian shop-keeper victims, they renamed xenophobia Afro-phobia. Whites have not been targeted, so if all-inclusive racial categories are still useful from the fight against apartheid, we should call this Black Phobia.
But it is happening mainly in the townships, shack settlements, labour-hostels and inner-city areas where poor people live. So we should first use class analysis to identify what is wrong.
What then becomes clear is that we have an unresolved matter: poor black people feel oppressed, and some of them are taking it out on anyone in sight who is different. This is not the first time we have had such incidents, and it is clear that our government and politicians never learn from the past. They are keeping poor people down, and whether it is in service delivery protests or these recent attacks, the explosions that result are impossible to predict or control.
Even now, with so much publicity and so much at stake, when we had a meeting with Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba last week, he was very honest to say he cannot guarantee that it will not happen again.
The reason is that no matter how much Gigaba and Durban Mayor James Nxumalo apologise for the attacks and lives lost, they don’t have any intention of changing the conditions that cause them.
Gigaba was Minister of Public Enterprises for five years before 2014, and what we witnessed under his rule was a massive increase in electricity prices to poor people but not to companies like BHP Billiton which gets the world’s cheapest electricity. The reason for the painful price increase was to pay for the Medupi and Kusile power plants, which cost more because of corrupt, multi-billion Rand, incompetent tenderpreneurship benefiting the ruling party. We also witnessed Gigaba approving Transnet’s mega-projects like a new coal super-railway and a new port for Durban, which will both cost hundreds of billions of Rands.
Will anything make these leaders and others like them change the course of history? What will persuade them to provide needed resources so that poor people’s lives improve, so that both local residents and foreign nationals feel that our official city vision is not as ridiculous as it sounds this month: ‘By 2020, eThekwini Municipality will be Africa’s most caring and livable city’?
The pressure is rising, on Durban’s and South Africa’s reputation. The brand is being damaged, and this is what our elites worry most about. Across our continent, the backlash is becoming economically serious.
For us, it boils down to the question of whether Durban is ready to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games. In Durban’s bid document, officials claim our city is a ‘responsible African citizen’: ‘We are Africans, we are an African Country, we are part of our multi-national region, we are an essential part of our continent. Being Africans, we are acutely aware of the wider world, deeply in our past and present. These Games will accelerate Africa’s rising and intra-continent integration, particularly in southern Africa.’
My response to this is, if Durban is ‘aware’ and ‘responsible’, then why are people dying and being evicted in such extreme ways? Is being a responsible African citizen listening to local leaders inciting violence and being quiet about it? Is being responsible letting victims suffer in Durban’s refugee camps without even enough tent shelter, sufficient food or essential supplies?
Only once Durban and this country become responsible African citizens can we be serious about hosting the Commonwealth Games or making a 2024 Olympic Games bid.
The Durban Commonwealth proposal also claims that we have ‘public and private security… and other facilities to cater for international tourists from various parts of the world’. Are they referring to the security that keeps failing to halt people being attacked? Or the security that blasted hundreds of anti-xenophobia activists with rubber bullets and blue rain to stop them marching on Durban’s main road last Tuesday? Or are they trying to say they will get new security just for the Commonwealth Games?
Really, if we cannot cater for people being killed in the poor areas of Durban, how can we claim that international tourists will be safe? If dangerous men like Zwelithini and Edward Zuma make incendiary statements without the government intervening, then no one is safe.
I had to be the first young African person to stand up and call the King to order. I was criticised, as a ‘disrespectful’ young woman. But even after threats, I did not stop raising my voice, because I love my country and I have a conscience. Today I am proud that my voice is finally being heard, that these concerns are finally getting attention even in parliament and that more people are filing hate-speech complaints against Zwelethini and Edward Zuma.
I am also glad that the King called for an Imbizo in Durban this week to speak about xenophobia. Many of us have been calling for the King to come to the victims and apologise to them. Even though he may lack the courage to do so, the fact that he is coming to Durban where the victims are is a sign he must listen to the cry of the people. We do hope that his arrival will bring change, even if it is long overdue.
A better South Africa is possible, but until then, it is obvious that international events like the 2022 Commonwealth Games bid need to be put on hold. We cannot allow people to come to an unsafe place like Durban, even if as international tourists with fat wallets they may think they are protected.
Until Durban has resolved its phobias, which are the result of the oppression of poor people and their mistaken targeting of migrant people from our continent and Asia, we must protest. Until the city and national government redirect resources to refugees in the short term and to all our ordinary poor residents, we must object to using public sports tourism subsidies that mainly benefit the city’s elite hotels and restaurants.
We should raise the same concerns so many in Africa are raising, with their protests against our government, against South African businesses and even against our cultural workers. They are crying out for this state to get its act together, and so must we.
We in Durban civil society should consider a boycott campaign: against the Tourism Indaba next month, against other big events at the International Convention Centre in the following weeks and even against any Commonwealth decision (expected on 2 September) to give the 2022 Games to our undeserving city.
We need an assurance not, as Gigaba told us, that xenophobia is likely to keep on coming back. Instead, we want convincing proof that this will never ever happen again, because by treating poor migrants and South Africans with respect and love, both xenophobia and the causes of xenophobia will have been wiped off our map. Only then will our shame lift.
Bandile Mdlalose is the President of the Community Justice Movement and can be reached at email@example.com
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Black Easter in Durban: Isipingo’s xenophobia 7 April 20157 April 2015
By China Ngubane, UKZN Centre for Civil Society (Dennis Brutus Community Scholars programme) – reporting on events from 31 March through 6 April in Isipingo, Durban
Whether organised or random, xenophobic attacks against Black African migrant nationals in Isipingo during the past week were not new, but represent an ongoing crisis for immigrants. In 2014, salons run by foreign nationals were looted and destroyed, replaced by local street businesses. Though the press did not cover the stories, some people were shot dead. Even if cases were opened with the police, no justice resulted. No one was arrested. And no preventive measures were taken.
On Tuesday the 31st of March, I received a call from Daniel Dunia, who runs a computer repairs and sales shop in Isipingo. Dunia is also a leader of the African Solidarity Network (Asonet). He told me he was in the shop at around 10am on Monday morning: “I saw people beating the boys that run a barber shop in Jadward Street. They beat them and looted from the saloons; they took the mirrors, scissors, tents, and everything else. When I came out I saw my fellow African brothers running away. As I went closer I heard people saying “bashaye” (beat them).. “Tthe king (Goodwill Zwelithini) said we must hit them.”
Dunia said at the beginning the attackers numbered less than two dozen, but the more the mob progressed, the more the numbers grew. They were only men. “I followed them until they arrived near PEP Store where they broke into another salon. They broke the door, they took all the equipment including hair products, and they beat the salon owner.”
This is when the police arrived, but there were only two police. Dunia continued:
“At the same time I received a call that they (locals) are breaking another salon again. We rushed to the police van in the vicinity and luckily the Station Commander was also there. I asked what could be done, and he said close all the shops and the salons for today. As we were talking with the police the mob went a few metres away, and started to break into our computer shops even though they were already closed. As our brothers started running away the mob started throwing stones and beating them. This took quite a while. Zulus were screaming: go away Kwerekweres, our King said you must go! Voetsek!, Shaya! Vimba!”
Indeed King Goodwill Zwelithini had the prior week given a ‘Moral Regeneration’ speech and amongst his words were attacks on immigrant workers: “When foreigners look at them [local South Africans], they will say: ‘Let us exploit the nation of fools.’ You find their unpleasant goods hanging all over our shops, they soil our streets. We cannot even recognise which shop is which, there are foreigners everywhere… We ask foreign nationals to pack their belongings and go back to their countries.”
Once police arrived, according to Dunia,
“We thought they were going to stop people from looting shops and beating people. Because all this happened close to a taxi rank, a big crowd was suddenly visible attacking migrant nationals. Taxi drivers also joined the attacks; it was shocking that all this was happening while police were there, but they could not arrest even a single person. The police were powerless, all they did was to shout from afar, hey stop-stop! When people finished looting, police said they can escort us to the police station for safety. As we came here locals now had all the freedom to break into the closed shops; we received phone calls that our shops were being looted. We told the police commissioner that people are looting our shops, and he said there is nothing they could do because they were understaffed. They tried to help but it wasn’t much.”
Later that evening, said Dunia,
“We stared to see Somalian people coming here running. They were attacked and their shops were looted and burnt at Malukazi, about three kilometres from Isipingo. After attacking shops the mob spread into the streets and houses where they beat every migrant national, damage and loot property. The nationalities affected and currently at the Police Station are Burundians, Mozambicans, Tanzanians, Congolese, Ugandans, Malawians, Somalians and Ethiopians.”
According to Samuel, a refugee from the DRC, “They beat me in my house near Folweni taxi rank and took everything away.” Ksai Ruvinga, who also runs a salon in the RedBro Building in Isipingo, saw people coming towards his shop, but he managed to escape and ran away with his wife and other workers, and luckily his kids were at the crèche. Ruvinga’s employees (locals) were never touched, as looters simply took some of the equipment such as driers and they left. “My shop is located between a Chinese, Indian and a Pakistan, I am wondering why they only targeted me,” he said. According to Ruvinga, a local Zulu guy well known as a friend to some migrant nationals was almost attacked because the mob thought he was not from South Africa.
According to another Congolese immigrant, Kabango Ocean, “I was hit by a big stone on the head on Monday around noon. So far I am one of the few who was allowed to file an affidavit and to open a case.” His compatriot Labwe had his shop looted in Alexandra Road and reported that nothing was left. “Our major need is security. Being located somewhere else will not help because we left our belongings. We need tight security so that we can go back to our work.”.
Ruvinga said the challenges now facing the newly displaced migrants at the police station were the limited sanitary facilities. “It is hard especially with children crying.” But he appreciated that Isipingo police were quite helpful in making sure that people get enough food. It was heart-breaking to see Ruvinga’s daughter crying for something to eat. Due to fear it was even a challenge for Ruvinga to go and buy something for her at the nearby shop outside the police station. Ruvinga continued,
“There were a series of meetings with authorities and police. They proposed that they will take our children and wives to a safe place. We did not agree to that because firstly all of us – women, children and men – need safety. Secondly, we did not know where they were going to keep our children and women. Today we see some improvement because there is food coming. The other challenge is accommodation. Also they don’t allow everyone to make an affidavit, and they only allow those that are seriously injured to do so. Everyone has a problem in Isipingo, we don’t only lose property or a place to stay. Some lost their documents and it is not fair to allow only seriously injured people. Proper food, medication, women’s sanitary material and child support were among other needs.”
Another immigrant, Maison, was also a victim:
“Zulus are saying people from Congo are taking their places. Zulus are jealous. They think we have a lot of money, and that Zulus are working for us. Three boys aged between eleven and fifteen say they cannot go to school, and they have been facing this. Teachers treat migrant students as outcasts. We are always told hey Kwerekwere you must go outside. We don’t need you in the class at Plattdrive School. We thank the government of this country for keeping us in here, they really helped us, but some of the people in this country are very bad. But people from Mozambique, Malawi and DRC never attack one another, it’s only South Africans attacking other blacks.”
Philomena, also from the DRC, received a beating, and still has bruises from when she was trying to run away with her two children. The mob almost caught her by Isipingo taxi rank. “Our children are traumatised and they are crying, for the past two and a half days people share same toilets with police officials, sleeping on open ground with no blankets, with traumatised children.” As she talked, a pregnant woman lay on the ground nearby, bleeding. Police soon intervened and she was taken to hospital.
On Wednesday the 1st of April a meeting was held with eThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo and the provincial Member of the Executive Council for Safety, Willies Mchunu. They welcomed all including migrant representatives. Among other officials present were General Ciliza (Isipingo Police SAPS), Dr Musa Gumede (Deputy City Manager for Community and Emergency Services), Councillors, officials from government in the province and Metro Police. For some of us it was really heartening to see the Mayor deeply involved and concerned about the crisis. One could witness his tireless efforts in engaging all stakeholders and himself being visible in the scene until late hours
The meeting was to give feedback about the ongoing discussions on this regard. He indicated that there has been a series of meetings to make sure that we deal with this matter and see how best we can find recommendations. The Mayor welcomed any information that may arise from the report. The way forward proposed by the Mayor and the MEC included four main areas to assist in addressing the current challenges:
· All arms of the government will have to discharge their various responsibilities. This is so that we can proceed in a manner that is in compliance with International Law. We need to conclude a verification process, which is the responsibility of the department of Home Affairs, to verify with the people that have been displaced, so that the assistance to be provided to them is contacted within the parameters of the South African Law. The Mayor will work very closely with the Home Affairs to ensure that the process is undertaken and concluded as required.
· The Mayor and the MEC recognised that the current state of the groups’ presence in the police station premises does not allow the normal functioning of the police to continue. The municipality will look at a site for temporary accommodation and accommodate members who have been displaced. The accommodation will cater for females and children in one structure and for males in another. Toilets, bins for waste collection, water to drink and wash, and electricity will be supplied.
· Food (raw and cooked) will be supplied by municipal supporters as short term solution to deal with the immediate situation.
· A broader community will gather to begin persuading an integrative process so that victims could resume normal life, so that kids can go back to school and home where they will play with their normal friends; so that women can go back and run their normal lives and men can go and run their normal businesses. The consultation process will require the affected members of the community (both South African and non-South African) and the employer (where the whole matter started). The mayor said we all desire that you are reintegrated back to your communities.
The Mayor acknowledged that we are dealing with a crisis and that the municipality is not responsible for the way the crisis has been started. He said by the end of the day Government and the Municipality have the responsibility to ensure that we arrest the situation, ensure that we save lives, and make sure that we keep people in safety. The Mayor also said that we need to work together and he requested respect and co-corporation from all parties involved. He also emphasised that even our attitudes counts since we are dealing with such a serious crisis, and reminded that we have one particular objective to make sure that we normalise the situation and that there is no loss of property. We will not allow any misbehaving from anyone whether South African or non-South African. “What binds us is that we are all human beings, and we are all Africans. We must ensure that we meet one another in finding solutions” he said.
The Mayor said we need to know who and how many people we are dealing with.
“We don’t want to find ourselves ending up with people who were not affected. That is why the registration of the affected people becomes important so we will be in control of the situation. It’s unfortunate that this is happening at a time we are approaching Easter Weekend; most of the churches are not available and all community halls are booked hence the only option available will be to provide marquees for males and for women. We do this even for our own people, for instance when there is fire in the informal settlements. We want to make sure that we talk with the people so that we can start the integration process. For now we cannot say go back because it is not safe to go there, and there will be a time when we feel it’s now safe for people to go there. We did this when the same happened in 2008 and we believe we can still do it through a process of normalisation. We do welcome all donations from all organisations and NGOs. And thus a secured site that is fenced will be provided and there will be controlled access to the site. SAPS and Metro Police will provide a 24 hour protection there until the situation gets better. There will be patrols by police.”
Dunia thanked the Mayor and the Police for their intervention and support at the police station. He suggested that the verification process was not relevant at the moment:
“We feel that what is needed is the help of the affected people and verification may follow afterwards. All of the people here came running from their places, and they have lost not only their property but also their documents. Even the so called illegal immigrants should be protected while they are here because the situation is not good out there. We also appreciate the provision of marquees and security. However the problem is that there are only a few Police and they are not able to control the situation. This is what happened even when this started, we are worried that if just 100 people come to attack us the police will not be able to control the situation. Even the fence will not help because they come with destructive tools. They were able to break into our shops even if they were closed and they can still throw stones at the marquees.”
Dunia requested to speed up the process because the affected are paying rent:
“This is month end and our landlords are waiting for their money. Because we are not working it is going to be very difficult for us to pay our rents. If we don’t pay the rent, we will find our things thrown out and we will be left with no home or business.”
Ahmed, an immigrant from Ethiopia, said the attacks are continuing, and his father was attacked as he tried to open the AAJ Cash and Carry shop in Isipingo. Looting followed:
“Even if we close the shops and our houses they still come and break in and loot. As we are here, what can we do to ensure that our things are safe?” He added that the issue of verification by the Department of Home Affairs is problematic because the number of victims at the police station is increasing every day. “Either due to fear or attacks victims are still coming from places such as Malakhazi and Umlazi” he said. On Tuesday night there were between 400 – 500 people. Salima, a victim from the DRC, asked how their belongings would be taken to the camp site.
General Ciliza emphasised the issue of attitude and co-operation. He said the shop was looted because the situation was still tense. It is important to wait until the situation is conducive. Ciliza advised people not take risks, and encouraged everyone to convey this massage to affected colleagues. The verification is going to be checking the status of people in South Africa. If a person is found to be illegal, another process will kick them out, he said.
Dr Gumede briefed the crowd that they are still dealing with other logistical issues and that a site was found that it is sufficiently secure. ”As a government we cannot overrule some laws. We want to help everyone, but when we help, we help within the law; that is why it is important for us to understand that the verification process should be done whether it happens now or later.”
Friday the 3rd of April marked a Black Easter for migrants as they were moved from the police station. Victims were first placed at Isipingo beach grounds during the afternoon in marquees. According to another immigrant, Samson Makwinja from Malawi,
“South Africans are angry because we are taking their jobs and we accept little money. One cannot buy life, we only live once, we cannot compromise our lives, we want to go back home. We are happy that our Malawian Ambassador in SA arrived here today, and we told him that we want to go home.”
From the DRC, Coco Bishongo, complained that the new camp was not good for women and children. “For the past four days at the police station we had no bath. It is also a similar situation here that there are no bathing facilities. Women and children are also sharing toilets with men.” Coco said she wished that if there were to be taken somewhere where it is safe, outside South Africa, “We rather go. We are tired of being treated like this.” Although food was provided at the Isipingo Beach site, some were not happy about the quality of food and the small portions. But this was rectified by the following day.
On the 5th of April, Minister of Home Affairs Melusi Gigaba arrived at the scene with his team for the verification process. According to Diaku Dianzenza, Chairperson of the African Solidarity Network, “We are pleased about the great developments that Minister Gigaba is willing to work with migrant communities on a long term basis. The verification process was suspended; the reason being, that it will look like victimising people who are in a situation of disaster.”
But on April 6, a group of workers were warned of possible new attacks in Kernville. Workers, among them migrant nationals, were almost attacked by a mob from Thuthukani shack settlement. Even though the victims managed to escape before the mob drew closer, there were strong warnings that there will be attacks after Easter holidays. Messages mobilising South Africans to kill all foreigners have been going around since last Friday. This is going to start as a march organised for migrants on Wednesday at Botha’s gardens near the market in Durban. However migrant networks said in an interview that they are not part of that march. Some said they fear that this might have been organised by people who are circulating the message to kill foreigners on Wednesday.
King Goodwill Zwelithini’s speech
Translated by the Sunday Times (5 April 2015)
Both King Dinizulu and King Cetshwayo were arrested for fighting for our country’s freedom . . . but when we talk of South Africans in 2015 we talk of people who do not want to listen, who do not want to work, who are thieves, child rapists and housebreakers. People who are lazy and who do not want to plough the fields.
When foreigners look at them, they will say: ‘Let us exploit the nation of fools.’ You find their unpleasant goods hanging all over our shops, they soil our streets. We cannot even recognise which shop is which, there are foreigners everywhere. I know it is hard for other politicians to challenge this, because they are after their votes. Please forgive me, but this is my responsibility, I must talk, I cannot wait for five years to do this.
As king of the Zulu nation, which is respected worldwide because of the role it played in fighting for freedom in Africa, I will not keep quiet when our country is led by people who have no opinion. It is time to say something.
I ask our government to help us fix our own problems, help us find our own solutions. It is time to take our blankets into the sun so that the fleas can come out.
We ask foreign nationals to pack their belongings and go back to their countries.
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