Calls for peace as clashes rage in Durban, Joburg

2015-04-16 17:27
(Giordano Stolley, News24)

(Giordano Stolley, News24)

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Durban – As police clashed with a group trying to stop a “peace march” in Durban on Thursday, the city’s mayor and other speakers appealed for peace following a march against xenophobia.

In Benoni, Gauteng, police fired rubber bullets at hostel dwellers trying to break into shops, but insisted this was not aimed at foreigners.

Outside Durban’s City Hall, Mayor James Nxumalo shouted "Phansi to xenophobia, down!” to a large crowd which had walked there from the Curries Fountain Stadium to protest against the violence.

The violnece began in Durban last week and spread to Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg.

At least five people have been killed and scores injured. In 2008, about 60 people were killed in xenophobic attacks countrywide.

A few blocks near City Hall meanwhile, police used stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse a group apparently trying to disrupt the march.

They banged on the shutters of shops as they fled police who chased them in several vehicles, sirens wailing, including on motorbikes.

A police officer told a News24 reporter that about 500 people had made their way towards the anti-xenophobia march shouting they were going to kill foreigners.

“Attacking foreigners is not going to solve our problems,” Nxumalo said.

“These are our brothers and sisters. We have the same blood. Blood is thicker than water. Go out into your communities and urge people to stop these attacks."

KwaZulu-Natal Legislature Speaker Lydia Johnson and Bishop Rubin Phillip echoed these sentiments.

"We commit ourselves to ensuring peace,” Johnson said.

“We will also meet with communities where we will encourage them not to attack foreigners. We need to accept our brothers and sisters and make them feel welcome in our country. When you go back home today tell your neighbours to love one another."

Phillip said: "We are God's children and we are one people and it does not matter where we come from in this continent of Africa. Let us unite today. There was a story of David and Goliath in the Bible and David defeated Goliath. We, like David, can defeat xenophobia," he said.


First Lady Thobeka Madiba Zuma said the problem needed an African solution.

“I'm calling on all of us to exercise ubuntu. As Africans we have our own way to respond to the challenges in an African way. Not to attack and kill one another.  

"What we have seen in the last weeks is undermining what our forefathers fought for. We have heard the president saying that South Africans will be given a platform to state their concerns.

“As a parent I rush for the remote to change the channel so that my children don't see this. It's embarrassing in the international community. We need to calm down. We need to sit down and have a dialogue with one another," she said.

State Security Minister David Mahlobo condemned the violence.

"As the government we are against the attacking of foreign nationals. No one has the right to take the law into their hands. Crime is crime, whether done by South Africans or not.”

He spoke out against lawlessness in general, including the defacing of apartheid and colonial-era statues.

"There are people defacing statues. This is a criminal activity. There are people involved in anarchy.”

Gauteng police spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said the attacks near the Wattville hotel in Benoni were “a criminal act, not a xenophobic attack”.

He said the shops that were targeted mostly belonged to locals.

Expelled Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi called on political parties and citizens to join a march against xenophobia in Johannesburg on April 22.

Read more on:    durban  |  johannesburg  |  monuments debate  |  xenophobia

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