Fight this scourge

2015-05-06 06:00
Lehlohonolo Nyetanyane, 


Lehlohonolo Nyetanyane, Foto:

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I WILL stir up Egyptian against Egyptian – brother will fight against brother, neighbour against neighbour, city against city, kingdom against kingdom. – Isaiah 19:2.

As a practising Christian, I refuse to believe that this Biblical text is a prophecy unfolding or reason enough to fuel xenophobic attacks as recently witnessed in Durban and some parts of Gauteng. Nor should this text be used as justification for the looting and cannibalistic behaviour displayed by South Africans against fellow Africans.

At least seven people have already been killed and scores arrested in Durban following a witch-hunt by South Africans against foreign nationals from countries like Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Somalia and Ethiopia.

Whether Afrophobic or xenophobic, recent attacks in Durban are largely attributed to utterances made by King Zwelithini at a moral regeneration rally when he said: “We are requesting all those who come from outside to please go back to their home countries.”

His Majesty has since come out saying his comments were misquoted in translation, as he was speaking in Zulu and his subjects misconstrued his comments as a licence to kill.

Foreign nationals have earned the derogatory title of “Those people from Africa” whilst still in Africa. The xenophobes randomly attack anyone with a foreign accent, despite some of them being documented asylum seekers, international students or economic refugees.

I wish these ignorant attackers would take heed to Max Erhmann’s words in his poem Desiderata: “Go placidly amid the noise and haste; and remember what peace there may be in silence.”

Locals claim that foreigners take their jobs, houses and business opportunities. In my opinion, all these are socio-political issues and cannot be resolved unless there is a political will to do so.

Government must tighten border patrol and immigration laws while decisively eradicating rampant corruption in the home affairs department. Where foreign nationals are found to be dealing in illegal substances, running brothels or possessing unlicensed fire-arms, the law must be harsh on them. The fact that foreigners provided sanctuary for our freedom fighters during apartheid should be secondary to why we must return the favour.

We must rather emphasise their inherent right to life by virtue of being human. Sending riot police to quell violence for a few days is only palliative – it is the same as wiping water off the floor while a tap is still running.

Church, civic, business and political leaders must act against xenophobia and speak out on behalf of vulnerable legal and illegal immigrants alike, before it is too late, as Martin Niemoller wrote:

“First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out –

“Because I was not a communist;

“Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out –

“Because I was not a socialist;

“Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out –

“Because I was not a Jew;

“Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak out for me.”

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