King blasts media for 'distorting' his words

2015-04-10 11:22
King Goodwill Zwelithini (Picture: AFP)

King Goodwill Zwelithini (Picture: AFP)

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Durban - King Goodwill Zwelithini has lambasted the media for "choosing to deliberately distort what was an innocent outcry against crime and destruction of property", he said in a statement on Friday.

The Zulu king has been criticised recently for comments he allegedly made 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".

“I have already stated my concerns about crime in South Africa, and I am on record as having said there is no justification for murder, looting and attacks that we have seen being perpetrated against foreigners,” he said.

“I am thus reiterating what I have always said.  All those who commit such crimes against anyone, whether foreign or local, should face the full might of the law.”

Three evils

He also denounced three evils experienced by the province in the recent weeks.

“These three evils are greed, xenophobia and tribalism. These three evils are the motivating force behind the vitriol articles, destruction of property and loss of human lives that some in print media have seen it proper to attribute as direct consequences of my address at the Pongolo event some weeks ago.

“It is disappointing that despite numerous explanations, even by those who were present at the Pongolo event, including the Minister of Police Nkosinathi Nhleko and [KwaZulu-Natal] Safety MEC Willies Mchunu, some sections of the media elected to deliberately distort what was an innocent outcry against crime and destruction of property.

“Unfortunately without better explanation on why they did what they did, we are forced to conclude that the aim was not to educate readers or citizens, rather [it] was to sell newspapers.

“Such greed unfortunately has created a dangerous situation and inconvenienced a number of people and communities,” said Zwelithini. 

‘Protect lives’

He said the incident reminded him of the horrific genocide in Rwanda, 1994, "where the Rwandan media played a major part in supporting, or creating an atmosphere to sanction the terrible human suffering that ensued".

A mere suggestion that people who were looting were doing that under the king’s instruction is disingenuous, the monarch said. 

“I am on record as having instructed people to till the land to feed their families and to protect lives and property,” he continued.

“In fact during the now famous Pongola speech, I lamented against the crime perpetuated against foreign shops but alas, the media elected not to write about that, but chose to romanticise criminality which happened at Isipingo.”

Zwelithini said South Africa and KwaZulu-Natal should avoid the trap of xenophobia and tribalism, “which, if allowed to reign supreme, will destroy the gains of our collective struggle as it did in the Rwandan genocide of 1994".

Looting and violence

Isipingo, south of Durban, has been a flashpoint of xenophobic violence and hundreds of foreign nationals have sought refuge in a local police station.

Police confirmed on Friday that shops belonging to foreigners were looted in Durban's Umlazi township.

"There were incidents that were reported at Umlazi last night [Thursday] where some of the foreigner's shops were looted," police spokesperson Major Thulani Zwane said.

"Police immediately responded and calmed the situation down."

Zwane said earlier in the week that Chatsworth residents attacked foreign nationals staying in an informal settlement on Tuesday night, forcing them to evacuate.

"The community members also burnt a shack belonging to a foreigner. Chatsworth SAPS members assisted the victims and tried to move them to a place of safety but they refused, stating that they are afraid to be deported," Zwane said at the time.

A 42-year-old man was injured during the attack.

Spate of attacks

Around the same time in Sydenham, about 100 residents also attacked foreign nationals at an informal settlement.

"[Police] tried to assist the foreigners who were under attack and the community members began throwing stones at the police," Zwane said.

"SAPS fired rubber bullets to disperse the unruly crowd. One unidentified foreign national was injured and taken to hospital for medical treatment. The community members were demanding all foreigners to evacuate the informal settlement. The police managed to contain the situation."

On Wednesday, riot police used water cannon, stun grenades and teargas to disperse a group of over 300 foreign nationals who gathered in Durban City centre to protest a spate of xenophobic violence in the eThekwini region.

Zwelithini sent his condolences on Friday to the Kenyan government following the shooting of 147 students at a Kenyan University in Garissa.

“During these difficult times we are all Kenyans and we feel the pain of this monumental loss.   This is the period when all Africans from every walk of life should unite in our resolve for better, peaceful Africa,” said Zwelithini.

The SA Human Rights Commission is investigating the king’s utterances. The investigation is ongoing.

Read more on:    king goodwill zwelithini  |  durban  |  looting  |  xenophobia

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