African diplomats to meet Nkoana-Mashabane over xenophobia

2015-04-16 22:54
An immigrant, armed with a machete, faces off with police in Durban. (Tebogo Letsie, AP)

An immigrant, armed with a machete, faces off with police in Durban. (Tebogo Letsie, AP)

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Johannesburg - International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane will meet ambassadors and diplomats from other African countries on Friday to discuss the latest wave of xenophobic attacks in the country.

Five people have died during violent confrontations in KwaZulu-Natal since last Friday, and thousands have been displaced. A peace march was held in Durban on Thursday, attended by thousands of people, including the province's premier, religious leaders and celebrities.

But as the march wound up, pockets of people started gathering at nearby Dr Pixley KaSeme and Joe Slovo streets once the marchers had passed through and started forming larger groups.

Groups of the 800 police officers deployed in the province formed human chains and used tear gas, rubber bullets and water cannons to clear them and nine people were arrested for gathering illegally. They were expected to appear in the Durban Magistrate's Court on Friday.

Police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said this charge was chosen because they had not applied for permission to gather in such large groups in the centre of the city.

On Thursday afternoon, a plant in Mozambique owned by Sasol stopped work as Mozambican employees of contractors at a natural gas processing facility in Temane refused to work in protest over the events in South Africa, and also demanded that the South Africans there go back home.

Sasol spokesperson Alex Anderson said there had been no cases of violence and the situation remained calm.

News24's sister site in Nigeria reported that the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mohammed Musiliu Obanikoro, said information available from the Nigeria mission in South Africa established that there had been no Nigerian casualties.

“The Government of Nigeria is in control of the situation in South Africa as it affects Nigerian citizens. We are following the developments in South Africa and efforts are being made to protect Nigerian citizens in South Africa.''

It made no mention of a video, widely regarded as a hoax, of a threat by Boko Haram to South Africans, if the xenophobia did not stop.

Violence in the Johannesburg area appeared to be waning on Thursday, but in Wattville, Benoni, a handful of public order policemen entered a hostel to check for any irregular activity.

Some of the hostel dwellers were gathered outside the hostel across the road from several shops and were singing and threatening to loot the foreign-owned shops, according to police spokesperson Warrant Officer Ramothakhi Maqabe.

Police officers fired rubber bullets and let off teargas to push them back into the hostel and it had calmed later in the day.

'Government to blame'

President Jacob Zuma again condemned the attacks in an address in Parliament on Thursday, but opposition party the Economic Freedom Fighters laid the blame at his and the government's door.

"The state, being the elder for the whole of society, becomes responsible for all the violence meted against our foreign nationals," said EFF leader Julius Malema, in reply to Zuma.

"It was through the state that our people were told that resolution to differences should be through violence. It was under your leadership that when you disagreed with people at Marikana, you killed them because you never believed in peaceful resolution of differences."

He said that when the EFF had disagreed with the ruling party in Parliament last year, it had also applied violence.

He took Zuma to task over his son Edward's recent comments about foreigners.

"Your own son continues to say these people must be killed. You stand up here and say nothing," Malema said.

He also criticised the president for not asking King Goodwill Zwelethini to clarify his remarks about foreigners, after it was apparently misinterpreted by the media.

Zwelithini reportedly said foreigners should pack their bags and immigrate, in a speech dealing with crime and littering.

Read more on:    maite nkoana-mashabane  |  julius malema  |  jacob zuma  |  durban  |  johannesburg  |  xenophobia

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