Tag Archives: xenophobic attacks

SA thugs burn another Mozambican man to death

According to this BBC report, an angry mob in Atteridgeville, a township near Pretoria, stoned and then set a Mozambican man alight. This comes only a few weeks after pictures of a man burning alive were splashed across the pages of newspapers globally.

Xenophobia lingers on – and until there are active measures in place to deal with the scourge and its causes, it will persist. It is horrifying to think of the depth of hatred and the moral vacuum that must exist to engender such a deliberate and vicious action. There is clearly no regard for the sanctity of human life amongst the perpetrators. No wonder our violent crime statistics rank amongst the highest in the world!



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Mkwere mkwere memories: ‘The police — they just laugh at us’

The two Congolese men that arrive on the church’s doorstep look shaken and defeated. They explain that their house in Samora Machel has been ransacked and burnt down; there is nowhere for them to go. Could they spend the night here, at the Claremont Methodist church?

Unfortunately the church is full so, after a hot meal has been provided, we give them a lift to Lotus River Methodist, which still has space. In the car they tell us their story. They’ve been in Cape Town for about five years. The previous Thursday they were on their way from their car-washing job to the Claremont station when a few black police officers spotted them. They searched them up against a wall before tearing up their immigration papers, arresting them and throwing them into a police van.

They spent the weekend incarcerated; then on Monday, at the Department of Home Affairs, a kindly woman recognised them, provided them with new papers and ensured they were released.

On Tuesday their house was attacked. They say that in Samora looters went from house to house, asking the nationality of the residents inside. If you’re an immigrant they entered and ransacked the place, taking everything of value. Then they called the mobs to come and burn the place down.

They went to the police station and reported what had happened. The police officers on duty were drunk and just laughed at them. Wednesday night was spent in the rain at the car park where they wash cars.

On Thursday night, they come to the church. The two men are stunned, shell-shocked by what’s happening to them. They can’t understand the madness. Among the mob that burnt their house down were local people they knew.

They tell us about their friend, also from the DRC, who was travelling by train last Monday morning from Cape Town station. Stuck in an overcrowded third-class carriage, the mob inside started asking him the meaning for isiXhosa words (doubtlessly they didn’t ask for the definition of “ubuntu”). When he couldn’t answer, they began beating him. As the train was approaching a bridge near Mowbray, the passengers tried to open the door of the carriage to throw him out. Fortunately the double doors refused to budge.

Badly beaten, the friend got out at Mowbray station. When he explained what had just had happened to the Xhosa security guards, they laughed at him. He went then went to the police where his story also elicited much mirth. “You’re a man — you should be able to defend yourself,” they said between bouts of laughter.

Immigrants are being subjected to senseless, brutal discrimination — apartheid by any other name. Immigrants in the eyes of certain South Africans are sub-humans: fair game for vilification, abuse and persecution. The chaos of the past few weeks may have quietened down but, tragically, the stigma of mkwere mkwere lingers, perpetuated by those who should know better.


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Immigrants the scapegoats for ANC delivery failure

The barbaric attacks on immigrants are in essence a protest against a lack of delivery and opportunity. Immigrants are an obvious target; a conductor rod to the storm of discontent that has gathered as inequality, poverty and unemployment in our townships has continued to remain rampant.

The seething anger that has been vented on the streets of our cities illustrates the resentment that, almost fifteen years into our democracy, jobs are scarce and social infrastructure — health, housing, education — is woefully inadequate.

Immigrants, in the eyes of protesters, are simply the straw that broke the camel’s back. They are perceived — all too often unfairly — as job-stealers, criminals and competitors placing unreasonable demands on scarce resources and shaky infrastructure.

In keeping with its hallmark denialism, the government has deludedly suggested that the appalling attacks on immigrants are the works of criminal elements — or even a shadowy third force. This only goes to show how out of touch the ruling party is with the majority of its constituents.

Until the government stops passing the buck through misattributing the cause of xenophobia, inequality will remain entrenched — and service delivery and social upliftment will never be the urgent priorities that they should be.

The ANC has become the default oppressor of the people because, while enriching its own elite, it has done little to change a status quo that remains rooted in South Africa’s unjust history of colonialism and apartheid. Self-enrichment amongst a politically connected few has flourished while life for many in this country remains much the same.

While the government acknowledges our nation’s widening wealth gap, it still advocates BEE to continue unreformed. This is despite the initiative’s obvious inability to redress economic imbalances and despite the fact that BEE pays only lip service to true social transformation.

BEE has been quite correctly described by President Mbeki’s brother as “a formula for co-opting — and perhaps even corrupting — ANC leaders by enriching them as private individuals”.

For xenophobia to be effectively contained, the people’s needs must be met. Efficient service delivery and a radically overhauled economic empowerment programme would be a good place to start.

This post was first published on Monday 26 May on Alex’s Thought Leader page.

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When will the madness end?

There are five Zimbabweans visiting my house; they’ve come for a shower after spending a night at the Claremont Methodist Church in Cape Town’s southern suburbs. It’s too dangerous for them to return home. 25 000 others like them have also been forced to flee for their lives while barbaric attacks rage and immigrants are hunted down, their clothes, and furniture stolen.

South Africa has shown its guests the finger. Who knows how long it will be before life can return back to normal for these poor people – how long will it be before the madness fades away and sanity and tolerance can once again prevail?

Speaking from Harare, Cathy Buckle has the following to say in her latest newsletter:

How can it be, that without warning and when Zimbabweans need support and refuge more than ever before, this can be happening across the border. Our temporary sanctuary, the place where we felt safe and could find food, friendship and compassion has suddenly gone. Which way now for our poor people? Too frightened to stay, too frightened to go.

Will immigrants be allowed back into the communities they have recently become a part of? Will the looting, beatings and burglaries come to an end?

I certainly hope so.

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ANC’s ingredients in xenophobia cocktail of chaos

As usual, Justice Malala hits the nail on the head in his latest Times column, this one on xenophobia. He holds the ruling party responsible for creating a climate of criminality where illegal actions can occur with impunity. This, he feels, has led thugs across Gauteng to believe they can get away with their barbaric behaviour towards illegal immigrants:

A cocktail of factors, mixed by the ANC over the past 10 years, is responsible for the barbarism.

These people are behaving like barbarians because the ANC has failed — despite numerous warnings — to act on burning issues that are well known for having sparked similar eruptions across the globe.

This cocktail is made up of stubborn denialism on Zimbabwe, an increasingly incompetent and corrupt police service, poor service delivery and corruption in government departments.

The crime-does-pay culture fostered by the ANC — criminals such as the Travelgate fraudsters walk away scot-free — is a central ingredient of the cocktail.

This column is a must-read!

Justice for president!!

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