Buthelezi's xenophobia message shunned as splinter group disrupts his speech to intimidate foreigners

2019-09-08 19:39
Mangosuthu Buthelezi. (File photo: Getty Images)

Mangosuthu Buthelezi. (File photo: Getty Images)

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IFP President Emeritus Mangosuthu Buthelezi adressed George Goch, Denver and Jeppestown hostel residents on Sunday morning when a splinter group disrupted the gathering, damaging property and intimidating people they apparently thought were foreigners.

Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters, in a statement, said the splinter group "disrupted the address and left before proceedings were concluded", News24 reported.

READ | Xenophobic attacks: Did the authorities miss the signs?

It's understood it was this group of men who later made their way through Jeppestown and parts of the city centre, including the Maboneng precinct and Hillbrow, damaging property, intimidating people they apparently thought were foreigners and forcing businesses to close their doors.

Eyewitnesses said some of the men were armed with sticks, pangas and tree branches.

Speaking to SABC News after his address was interrupted, Buthelezi said he was "very depressed" over the events gripping South Africa.

He said he wanted to remind the locals gathered in Murray Park in Jeppestown that "we are family with the other African countries".

"I'm very depressed because I'm depressed for my country. When my country is in a crisis - and as an elder - I feel very, very concerned, especially because I tried to say I hadn't come to judge anyone. My message was to say we are family with the other African countries. Families have differences and so on, but the main thing is that we need each other," he said during the interview.

READ | Gauteng xenophobia attacks akin to 2008 crisis - Institute of Race Relations

He said he pointed out that attacking African migrants was going to have "consequences" for the country.

"Our stores are being attacked in Nigeria, the football team from Zambia didn't come. This has consequences for us ... This behaviour, in fact, is like shooting ourselves in the foot because many people who help us from other countries will [no longer] help us."

Buthelezi said the gathering in Murray Park was meant to be a "government meeting" but national and Gauteng political heads of department pulled out at the eleventh hour.

He said he was concerned the government wasn't taking the problem seriously and that to him, it seemed "we're fiddling while Rome is burning".

"It seems to me like they have not realised the seriousness of the situation we're facing as a country.

"I can see the country collapsing if this isn't taken seriously," he warned.

A building fire in which three people died is believed to have been the catalyst for protests in Jeppestown last week.

The unrest quickly became anti-migrant demonstrations and spread to other parts of Gauteng throughout the week. The violence has been marked by widespread looting, attacks on both migrants and locals, and damage to property.

At least 10 people, including two foreign nationals, have died in the violence.

- Compiled by Sheldon Morais

Read more on:    mangosuthu buthelezi  |  violence  |  politics  |  xenophobia
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