Mandela, Kathrada foundations condemn Durban violence

2015-04-14 20:29
(Amanda Khoza, News24)

(Amanda Khoza, News24)

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Durban - The Nelson Mandela and Ahmed Kathrada Foundations urged South Africans to eradicate xenophobia, after at least 46 people were arrested for public violence in the Durban area on Tuesday.

"'This is the latest manifestation of a phenomenon which has been troubling our democracy for a long time," a joint statement from the foundations said on Tuesday.

The foundations welcomed an earlier statement by Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba on behalf of president Jacob Zuma that all human life in South Africa must be protected, saying: "For too long South Africans in leadership positions have either ignored the crisis or stoked the fires of hatred''.

"We call on all South Africans to take responsibility for embracing the hospitality that defines our democratic order and to work together to find solutions to a problem which is destroying lives and bringing South Africa shame internationally."

Durban's CBD became the focal point on Tuesday of clashes between police, foreigners and locals, with a car set alight, stun grenades and tear gas cannisters being fired, and crowds taunting police by banging on the shutters of shops and running away as police approached to investigate.

Police spokesperson Captain Jay Naicker said earlier a group of foreigners were allegedly throwing stones at passing vehicles, people and at the police in the CBD.

Five people have died since Friday, starting with two Ethiopians who were petrol bombed in the container they slept in and ran their small business from.

'Police monitoring the situation'

"'The police are still monitoring the situation," said Naicker. "We heard that there was a man injured but we cannot confirm at this stage as no case has been opened,""said Naicker, when asked to clarify unconfirmed reports on social media that a Pakistani national had been shot, or had been set alight.

As commuters headed home late in the afternoon, sirens wailed throughout the seaside city and a pall of smoke rose from the CBD.

A crowd of about 700 people gathered at the end of Monty Naicker Road, where it intersects with Dr Yusuf Dadoo Road.

Suddenly there was a commotion with some men seen with knobkerries and rocks, and police bringing out their water cannons to control the crowd. Stun grenades were fired, but most people had fled.

Meanwhile, Amnesty International said arrests by police were not enough.

"'... The authorities must launch full, transparent and independent investigations, and bring suspected perpetrators to account,” said Sicel’mpilo Shange-Buthane, executive director of Amnesty International South Africa.

Amnesty International had repeatedly asked the South African government to develop a plan involving the police and other agencies to prevent and protect refugees from targeted attacks, said Shange-Buthane.

"'The blatant attacks, which have included violence against journalists covering incidents and against some police intervening, follow months of similar violence in other provinces of South Africa, including in Gauteng and Mpumalanga provinces."

On April 13 this year, KwaZulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu established a task team of experts, under the leadership of the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay, to investigate the causes of the violence in the province.

Amnesty International said violence against refugees was unusual in KwaZulu-Natal and appeared to have been triggered by the reported statement of Zulu monarch, King Goodwill Zwelithini, that government must take steps so that all foreigners leave South Africa.

The organisation also rejected a suggestion for refugee camps in South Africa, suggested by African National Congress secretary general Gwede Mantashe, saying it may inadvertently encourage further attacks against them.

Read more on:    durban  |  xenophobia

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