Saturday, April 11, 2015

End the Division

Once more in the wake of  comments by the Zulu king telling migrants to go home we witness shameful scenes of hatred in South Africa. Following the alleged remarks by King Goodwill Zwelithini where he reportedly said that foreigners were changing the nature of South African society as they were taking advantage of the poorly behaved and undisciplined locals. Zwelithini was also quoted as saying, “We urge all foreigners to pack their bags and leave”, 250 people have been attacked, mostly from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and foreign-owned shops have been looted in the port city of Durban. South African President Jacob Zuma's son, Edward, has come out in support of the Zulu king's alleged comments, accusing foreigners of "taking over the country". He said foreigners were fuelling South Africa’s drug problem.“They are the reason why there are so many drugs in the country. They supply and sell the drugs to communities in our country."

More than 1,000 mainly African migrants have fled their homes, some going to police stations and other are being housed in tents on a sports field. “They said they were intimidated to vacate their homes by locals and came to us because they feared for their lives,” police spokesman Thulani Zwane said. “Most of the shops belonging to foreigners in trouble areas have been abandoned and now criminals are breaking in and stealing everything they can carry away,” Zwane said. 

 South Africa's Business Day newspaper reports that at least three people have been killed and that a Somali shopkeeper is in a critical condition. Police yesterday broke up a march by a group of foreign nationals who were protesting against the violence, firing water cannons and tear gas. Police said the march was illegal. Spokesman Eugene Msomi said the crowd had to be dispersed when they failed to follow orders to do so. “They were informed in writing the day before not to march due to prevailing safety concerns,” Msomi said.

As Africa’s most industrialized nation, South Africa attracts thousands of foreigners every year, seeking refuge from poverty, economic crises, war and government persecution in their home countries. While the bulk of them are from elsewhere on the continent, such as Zimbabwe, Somalia and Ethiopia, many come from South Asia. Economically disadvantaged South Africans see foreigners as competing with them for business and jobs. Locals and African immigrants compete for scarce jobs, making them a target for violence and intimidation.

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