Durban leaders unite for peace march

By Drum Digital
15 April 2015

Religious and political leaders are planning a peace march to the Durban City Hall in a bid to stop attacks between foreign nationals, police and residents of the city, a spokesperson for the KwaZulu-Natal government said on Tuesday.

"On Thursday there will be a march led by various sectors by government from Curries Fountain as a stand against xenophobia, as an expression of commitment to ending this kind of violence and to protecting lives," said Thami Ngwenya.

After a day of running battles, Ngwenya said police would be ready to secure the city for workers and commuters on Wednesday and considered the events of the past days as "mostly criminal".

Thursday's march would be led by religious leaders, representatives of various community structures and, said Ngwenya, "those that stand for values of ubuntu, who stand against any forms of violence''.

Forty six people have been arrested so far, and least five people killed, including a teenager, since the violence flared in Isipingo, outside Durban on Friday.

By Monday it had spread to  KwaMashu and on Tuesday police played a cat and mouse game with groups who ran around the city banging on the shutters of closed up shops to attract the police, only to run away when police approached.

A car was set alight, and stun grenades and tear gas canisters were fired.

Ngwenya said: "This is bringing shame to our country.”

He hoped the theme of the march - ''Not in our name'' - would help return peace to the city.

Earlier on Tuesday, KwaZulu-Natal's Premier Senzo Mchunu and the Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba met diplomats from at least 15 African countries to discuss the latest events.

"'The position is that we condemn this and the focus is to end the violence and bring stability and ensure that we get to address these issues," said Ngwenya.

''It's basically has a lot of criminal elements. It is the targeted looting of shops owned by foreign nationals. Police have been deployed and are trying to quell the situation.''

He could not comment immediately on whether there was a backlash starting among foreign nationals, following a stand-off with police in Albert Park, Durban.

On Tuesday afternoon police and community representatives urged a group of foreign nationals gathered in Albert Park to disperse but they taunted police at first, with a loud countdown, before leaving.

The province was also working with organisations such as the Red Cross to provide food and shelter to people who been displaced.

''They are being given food, and water, and after that their longer term accommodation needs and reintegration will be assessed.''

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