KHULUMANI DECRIES THE BRUTAL XENOPHOBIC ATTACKS ON THOUSANDS OF FOREIGN NATIONALS IN ETHEKWINI MUNICIPALITY
A Khulumani-associate and friend, Mr Bonginkosi Ntusi, Director of the Africa Care Foundation, lives in uMlazi-township in Durban and has been keeping Khulumani aware of how the xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals have been playing out over recent days. Mr Ntusi has been trying to ensure that the school-going children of foreign nationals, constituting in most instances no more than 10% of the school-population at most public schools in South Africa, at the minimum have something in their stomachs each day.
Following the intensification of yesterday’s attacks that moved into the Durban city centre, Mr Ntusi notified us that his greatest fear is his concern about how the attacks may intensify under cover of darkness in a city in which those responsible for providing protection are not willing to offer these services to foreign nationals after dark. Mr Ntusi raised the alarm on what might happen as police retreat and foreign nationals are left to their own devices to try to protect themselves from apparently systematically planned and implemented violent attacks on their lives and livelihoods, with the seeming silent approval of authorities.
Mr Ntusi took responsibility for engaging a Senior Police Commissioner in Durban yesterday afternoon (April 14) to plead for the police to maintain a strong presence overnight to protect foreign nationals whose lives are under threat from South Africans. He reported that the SAPS did not agree to provide this essential protection at night.
A further concern he highlighted was the fact that uMlazi-township was in darkness last night because of load-shedding and that the lives of foreign nationals would be at even greater risk, as even those South Africans who have been trying to provide them with protection and support, were afraid to be outside their homes in the darkness. Some of them have themselves been victims of the xenophobic rage of some South Africans for giving assistance to foreign nationals.
Yesterday [14 April 2015] the ambassadors of the countries of origin of most of the threatened foreign nationals were in Durban for meetings with South African government officials. The ambassadors appealed to these officials to assist them to provide the means for all those foreign nationals who wished to return home, to be enabled to do so, in the context of the loss by many of these foreign nationals of their own hard-won assets at the hands of xenophobic South Africans. The South African government officials yesterday rejected these requests for assistance.
Subsequently, Mr Ntusi engaged officials from the Department of Social Development to request that they provide urgent food relief to displaced foreign nationals. The official to whom he spoke allegedly replied, “Let them starve so that they go home.”
Khulumani agrees with Mr Ahmed Kathrada in his depiction of this demonstration of inhumanity, that xenophobia is another version of racism, based, we believe, on a largely still untransformed Apartheid legacy of self-hate.
Khulumani calls on all concerned citizens to support the efforts of local organisations in Durban to provide means for them to continue to try to provide food and other urgent needs through making contributions to the bank account of the Africa Care Foundation with the Reference: Foreign Nationals.
The bank details are:
Account Name: Africa Care Foundation
Type of Account: Business Savings
Account number: 926 554 7757
KHULUMANI SUPPORT GROUP
NPO 008-135 ; PBO 930 029 992 ‘From victims to active citizens’ National Contact Centre: 2nd Floor Khotso House, 62 Marshall Street, Marshalltown 2017 Tel: +27-11-833 2044/5 Fax: +27 11 833 2048 Email: email@example.com | Website: www.khulumani.net
This is sick. Is this what we had all fought for? What of the ideals and the values we promoted to the World? Our so-called leaders have let us down. The many who had struggled and left us must really be turning in their graves. We cannot blame this behaviour on the new generation because there are still many who were sort of groomed by the Old Guard before they left us. What do we do now? That is the million dollar question.
We … should think about this and do what we did before to eradicate the Apartheid Regime! Is that what is to be done? I place this on the table for discussion.
wrote this a while ago. Sadly true today
It ain’t Xenophobia? Really?
it’s not xenophobia?
the refrain is the same,
it’s the criminals to blame,
we still won’t be calling the attacks by their stinking name,
that’s what it is,
let us not be simplistic,
we have to face the ugliness of our collective shame,
because when mostly ‘foreigners’ get put to the flame,
how can we ignorance feign?
simple & plain,
with poverty & unemployment barrelling on a runaway train,
and it won’t just ‘go away’,
for as long as ignorant complicity continues to reign …
‘Xenophobia’ is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as:
” noun: intense or irrational dislike or fear of people from other countries“
The synonyms for xenophobia are: chauvinism, racial intolerance, racism, dislike of foreigners, nationalism, prejudice.
As a citizen of South Africa, I am acutely aware of the many challenges that our young country faces.
The iniquities of our tortured past, the legacy of Apartheid, socio-economic issues etc. are just a few of the many problems that South Africa is grappling with.
What is extremely disturbing for me is something that I have personally encountered, in conversations with friends, family, and fellow citizens from all walks of life.
That something is how rife ‘anti-foreigner’ sentiment is within our various, and still divided communities.
I have heard the most atrocious, insensitive, hate-filled utterances regarding the ‘foreigners’ who ‘take our jobs’, and ‘take our women’, and ‘are the cause of all the crime’, and ‘they must go back to their countries’, and most chillingly ‘we will kill these foreigners’.
I am also aware that many intellectuals, think-tanks, NGO’s, and sociologists etc. have written and spoken volumes about how the failure of proper service delivery by the government and local municipalities, and the myriad other shortcomings that plague our country have played a part in the emergence of this abhorrent xenophobic sentiments that are being spouted almost as if one was talking about culling animals in the Kruger National Park.
We have already witnessed the scourge of xenophobia, and not long ago, when organised bands of people marked, attacked and killed ‘foreigners’ in a frenzy of blood-letting and looting.
This was in 2008.
And today, as the father of the nation, Nelson Mandela lies ill in a hospital bed in Pretoria, I hear similar disturbing and blood-curdling hate-speech directed against ‘the foreigners’.
What is going on?
Where and how have we, as a country, failed, or more worryingly, chose to ignore the signs of this cancer that has to be dealt with, and dealt with as a matter of national priority.
The synonyms for xenophobia include racism, racial intolerance, and prejudice.
The neo-Nazis in Europe and elsewhere are xenophobes.
No one disputes that.
The neo-Nazis in Europe and elsewhere talk in almost exactly the same terms when they spout their rhetoric, when they go on ‘Paki-bashing’ sprees in England, when they deface Synagogues and Mosques and Temples, or when they beat up and kill ‘foreigners’ who ‘take our jobs’, and ‘take our women’, and ‘are the cause of all the crime’, and ‘they must go back to their countries’.
What is particularly disturbing about the rise of xenophobia, especially in the South African context is the complicity of silence, and by extension, a shocking acceptance of these racist and murderously dangerous views, by ‘normal’ citizens.
We are Africans.
And above all, we are all human.
This may seem like an obvious and unnecessary fact to point out, but when certain friends, family members, and people one interacts with daily, spew such xenophobic drivel, it needs to be taken seriously.
Pogroms, xenophobic attacks, racism, intolerance, prejudice, casteism, religious bigotry, sexism, and homophobia, do not simply arise out of nothing.
There are societal, religious, traditional, cultural and other factors that do indeed create fertile ground for some of these noxious sentiments to germinate.
It is incumbent on us all, people, just people, to engage with people, however close they may be to us, and challenge and make our voices heard that we will not stand mutely by, as such hate-filled venom is chucked around nonchalantly.
We cannot be conspicuous by our silence and inaction when a large segment of our society, those who have chosen our country to be their home, often fleeing economic hardship, political and social violence, and numberless other factors that force, and this is important, people are forced into leaving their countries, often making hazardous and painful journeys in order to find safe-haven amongst fellow human-beings.
As South Africans, we know just how friendly countries welcomed us during the darkest days of Apartheid repression and tyranny.
Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, and the other ‘front-line’ states paid dearly for offering South Africans fleeing Apartheid a place of refuge as well as a base of operations against the oppressive Apartheid system.
Apartheid agents and security forces attacked, fomented insurrections against the governments in the front-line states, and still South Africans of all races, creeds etc. found a welcome home in these comradely countries.
We should never forget this.
Our government needs to be more vocal about its stance on xenophobia, and by doing so it will send a message that it will not stand by idly while people from other parts of the continent are constantly under the threat of being attacked.
That said, we as citizens have a voice, and it is morally incumbent on all of us to do our bit so that the scourge of xenophobia is excised from this land.
There is a simmering undercurrent of the possibility of attacks on foreigners as I type these words.
If this is not taken seriously and dealt with, sadly we may see scenes similar to those we witnessed in 2008.