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Xenophobia: “There are people who have a clear mission to destabilise this country”

Shoks Mnisi Mzolo – Cii News | 27 Jumadal Ukhra 1436/17 April 2015

The point of departure is that it’s not nice to be forced, by circumstances, to be relocated to foreign lands.  Secondly, suffering and winter, whether literal and figurative, is borderless and not a single person knows what will happen tomorrow nor where they will be. That is the word from Abahlali base Mjondolo, a Durban-based lobby group for shack dwellers. Responding to the strife that has not displaced thousands of people and sowed fear but also claimed lives, Abahlali chairperson S’bu Zikode expressed his disappointment.

On the other hand, he conceded that those who their fingers on the pulse were not caught totally unaware by the wave of violence, directed at fellow Africans who are citizens in other territories, that hit Durban this month. He attributed the unfolding scenario to a conference of factors including prejudice or hatred, ignorance, sheer crime (given drug abuse in this city), and the political element.

“There are people who have a clear mission to destabilise this country, to cause chaos, so that (it descends into) an ungovernable state. At the same time there is a criminal element, there are opportunists. Here in Durban, the so-called Whoonga Boys, the drug addicts that are all over our city, have mobilized – they are very organised now – (to) loot and start stealing from the shops,” Zikode said, explaining why some South African citizens, numerical insignificance notwithstanding, are unleashing terror on fellow Africans. “Others have deep hatred for no reason.”

The activist was not shy to finger state, including police officers and government officials, for their duplicitous role. By way of example, Zikode noted, why have perpetrators not been dealt with harshly in the different locations that have been engulfed by this terror. Significantly, he pointed out that Abahlali, among other forces or entities that have openly rallied behind the besieged fellow Africans, have been lambasted by the police for their stance. It’s little wonder then that the likes of Abahlali, and other elements of the civil society, are not quite surprised by this episode.

“There have been early warning signs. I think it’s been clear to people are working in communities, who walk the streets in our communities who, understand and, speak to ordinary men and women. We were aware of the situation. You’ll remember that last year we launched our solidarity working relationship with the Congolese Solidarity Campaign – a group from the DRC, who actually made a presentation to Abahlali for us to understand why they’re here, looking at the wars that are taking place in their countries,” said Zikode.

South Sudan is a case in point. The Democratic Republic of Congo, in the throes of terror since the ouster and assassination of Patrice Lumumba (after which West-supported autocracy reigned), is another. Angola and Mozambique once were. It is wars main that breed refugees in the main, said Zikode. Further, since some economies are agriculture-intensive, climate is also a factor. In a continent where ubuntu is (or was) intrinsic, this type of discrimination defies logic. Scramble for or scarcity of resources has, illogically, been touted as yet another factor. Awake to these factors, and in the spirit of solidarity and brotherhood, Abahlali responded to the early warning signs, that Zikode referred to, by zooming in on what has now turned Durban into chaos.

“Having established this kind of warning sign we thought we should intensify our working relationship and welcome our foreign nationals, our brothers and sisters, as part of the South African (society). In doing so we’ve actually allowed them to present their case to our general meetings – which include a number of shack settlements in Durban who were aware of this situation,” Zikode said ahead of the much anticipated anti-terror march in there.

“After watching those videos and listening to their presentations you’ll actually (appreciate) that there are no human beings. Human beings will always be human beings whenever, and wherever they find themselves,” he said, adding that unyawo aluna mpumulo, borrowing from the Nguni tongue, to emphasise that mobility is both random and unpredictable because “you’ll never know what the future entails”. From the South African or hosting perspective, the bottom line, he said, is to “open our hearts for every human being that we’re living with.”

Moving on, Zikode said the state, and law enforcers, ought to confront the culprits and finding out from them why they are doing this in the first place. The likes of Abahlali, he said, are now “an island” and “isolated” by right-wing movements abetted by the police and other powerful forces elsewhere. “There’s a hidden political agenda.”

Xenophobia: Will our solidarity last only as long as the fires burn?

stand against xenophobia

Fatima Haffejee – Opinion | 27 Jumadal Ukhra 1436/17 April 2015

The xenophobic attacks currently underway in Durban, KZN and some parts of Johannesburg South Africa has left me (as a SOUTH AFRICAN citizen) fuming.

I could sit back and revel in the privilege of being a citizen of the country I reside in. The entitlement this allows me. A country that has withstood an oppressive regime. An apartheid.

A country, who, for all her poverty, illiteracy, class division and corruption schemes has reached leaps and bounds. A far cry from its neighbouring siblings.

Yet, for the first time since apartheid, I am abhorred by my country. By my fellow men and their misappropriation of Africa, her soil and her conditional sense of giving.

In writing this, I consider what a middle class snob this makes me. For it isn’t an incredulous feat to be able to pen my sensitivity on a topic. Neither is it a tour de force to post articles (such as this one) expressing concern and simultaneously, indignation for the deficit in ‘humanity’.

And there’s that word again.


When Palestinians (adults and children alike) were being (and still ARE) forcefully driven from their homes, dismembered bodies – bewailed, the aftermath of a blood bath depicted in photographs, humanity lessened to a social media frenzy. It was all seemingly momentary.

Humanity was in vogue, you see.

As soon as the details are sufficiently circulated, our revulsion acknowledged and our voices heard – we move on.

But who can be blamed for this.

For, whilst inhumanity can be loathed upon, this detestation can only last for as long as the momentum continues.

Eventually we realize that ‘life goes on’. I mean, how much of ourselves can be invested in other people’s problems when we’ve got so much going on in our OWN lives.

Someone else will resolve it.

There’s always a ‘someone else’. Never a like-minded conglomeration of individuals whose intuition is for the betterment of others. Regardless of how minuscule their contribution may be.

A ‘someone else’ who will rectify everything. Individuals who will right our wrongs. A superhero of sorts – minus the movie rights and the fame.

In a recent article of Al-Jazeera’s titled ‘No place like home. Xenophobia in South Africa’ a particular text stands out for me.

‘When the riots broke out in Soweto in January 2015, it surprised no ONE.’.

No ONE (a generalisation of course but hear me out) was surprised by the lack of humanity, by the reinstating of apartheid.

Black ousting blacks. Who’d have thought?

EFF’s Julius Malema:‘You have lost control of the country, because you have lost control of your own family. Your  own son continues to say (foreigners) must be killed. You stand up here and do not say anything.’

Seemingly everyone.

Then again, I’m just a privileged middle class – with a pen.

Ours isn’t a lawless country, and yet the current state of affairs make it read as such. I’m not the one holding that panga, regardless, I’m still a part of ‘those’ South Africans. My rebuttal will be null and void because in the face of the world, I am an African. My soil is my identity.

‘As South Africans, we should be ashamed of ourselves that we have produced citizens who can commit such serious crimes against our own African brothers. It doesn’t make sense.’ –Liberation veteran Rev. Frank Chikana

Trevor, the waiter at a café I frequent was appalled by the very notion of these attacks. He looked somewhat startled when I asked whether he was a foreigner too. ‘I’m South African’, he said after a moment’s hesitation. Seemingly afraid that as a black South African he might have to face the backlash of his fellow brothers.

‘Why aren’t you wielding a Panga?’ I asked, curious to know his thoughts on the attacks. ‘I don’t have to do what everyone else does. I can think for myself. Those people aren’t thinking.’

And really, it’s as simple as that.

When my country is lauded, I am too. When my country is berated, I am too. But I will not be tolerant of injustice. Be it at the hands of my own kind.

But that same sense of unity that connects me with my homeland inevitably connects me with humanity. Today it is ‘them’ but tomorrow it could be ‘us’ and I’d never want for karma to hit me with indifference.

Using the hashtags #xenophobiamustfall #xenophobicsafellow South Africans took to twitter to share their thoughts.

‘I am human before I am South African.’ #xenophobiamustfall –Terry Pheto

Taxpayers, including foreign nationals pay the Zulu King R58 million (on average) per yearand he incites violence against fellow South Africans? #xenophobiamustfall – Max Du Preez

‘We were told that attacks are coordinated by ’committees’ in communities. So not sporadic, organic anger.’ #xenophobiamustfallPhumzile Van Damme

‘African. But not the right kind of African.’ #xenophobiamustfall– NaadiraAlli

‘How can you fear poverty when you are the servant of the most rich (Allah)? #xenophobicSA – Farzana Adam

‘We are all foreigners somewhere.’ #xenophobicSA –Maps Maponyane

‘Dear Durbanites. Log onto Nkandla.com and you’ll see whose really stealing from you.’ #xenophobicSA – David Kibuuka


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