Durban rocked by violent clashes

2015-04-14 17:57
(Joe Stolley, News24)

(Joe Stolley, News24)

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Durban - President Jacob Zuma issued a directive on Tuesday to protect all human life as police had running battles with looters and angry foreign nationals in Durban.

The boom of stun grenades was heard and smoke billowed from the central business district of the popular coastal holiday destination.

The streets were filled with strewn rubbish, and policemen trying to contain the situation.

Sirens wailed as they rushed around trying to stop clashes and protect shops from being looted.

A car was set alight and police ran down streets firing stun grenades. In Joseph Nduli Street, huge crowds of looters threw items out of a shop with police trying to throw the goods back in. Packets of nappies were lying all over the street outside the shop.

In one building over 150 foreign nationals cowered for safety after being rounded on.

A little girl cried, searching for her five-year-old sister, who was later located.

So far, since Friday, police have confirmed that two Ethiopians died when the container they slept in and ran a shop from was petrol bombed. 

Police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker confirmed that two South Africans had also died in the violence, while on Monday night, a 14-year-old boy was shot during the looting at the shops in KwaNdlanzi area, Lindelani.

Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said at a briefing on Tuesday that at least 48 people had been arrested since the outbreak of violence against foreign nationals in the province.

Since Friday, Durban and its surrounds has been shaken by what at first glance appears to be xenophobic violence, with foreign nationals often coming under attack.

Since then, violence has spread to KwaMashu and then to the city centre, which was closed for business on Tuesday afternoon.

Later on Tuesday afternoon, a group of foreign nationals gathered on a corner in Albert Park, ignoring police calls for them to disperse.

With water cannons at the ready for a stand-off, the group was ordered to disperse through a loud hailer message, but instead they taunted police with a slow count-down from ten.

People hung out of windows in the densely populated area to watch.

One of the civilians in the group, Buhle Mjoli, who is a ward councillor for ward 32 in the city took the police's loud hailer and begged people to go their houses saying it would be safer.

One of the foreign nationals also addressed the group with the loud hailer.

After that they started wandering away, but the litter strewn area was still saturated with policemen.

Earlier Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba relayed a message from Zuma saying: “The President had clearly indicated to the ministers that we need to protect all human life...”

“We must also provide those that are displaced with temporary shelter, and... we need to bring the violence to an end,” said Gigaba.

Rumours that the SA National Defence Force would be called in were denied by spokesperson Siphiwe Dlamini.

Some critics have pointed out that the recent attacks on foreign nationals follow comments allegedly made by King Goodwill Zwelithini during a moral regeneration event in Pongola, northern KwaZulu-Natal.

It was reported that the king allegedly told a gathering that "foreigners must pack their bags and go home".

Zwelithini said on Friday that the media had chosen to "deliberately distort" his comments.

President Jacob Zuma's son Edward, who has come out in full support of Zwelithini's call, said on Tuesday that government had to stop unnecessarily accommodating foreign nationals.

“What is happening in KwaZulu-Natal is exactly what I was talking about when I said South Africa is sitting on a ticking time bomb.

"People think that I am being xenophobic but I am not, I am just trying to make a point that we have a problem.

“There was a woman that was shot by a foreigner in Umlazi. My question is where did they [foreign nationals] get guns from? And the problem is that the police won’t be able to trace some of these guys [because they do not have legal documents to be in the country].

“All those that are in this country illegally must leave. I do not blame them [South Africans] for being angry but what can government do? Home Affairs and the South African Social Security Agency [Sassa] are taking care of them, but South Africans will still be angry.”

“I am not going to stop telling the truth. The government must stop running away from addressing this issue because these people are expected to go back into their communities and we would have wasted taxpayers' monies [accommodating them at camps].”

Read more on:    durban  |  xenophobia

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