'I saw the anger in my son's eyes' - anti-xenophobia protester

2017-03-09 19:36
South Africans and foreigners marching to the Union Buildings. (Lizeka Tandwa, News24)

South Africans and foreigners marching to the Union Buildings. (Lizeka Tandwa, News24)

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Pretoria – The office of the president refused to receive a memorandum from anti-xenophobia marchers at the Union Buildings on Thursday.

South Africans and foreigners were in high spirits during their march through the streets of Pretoria, until they reached the seat of government, where they were turned away.

To them it was a clear sign that immigrants were being used as scapegoats to hide government’s failures.

The marchers, mostly South Africans, said they were disheartened by the reception they received.

Police officers at the Union Buildings said the group failed to get permission to stage the march and so the presidency was not expecting them.

“When the working class is divided it will be incapable to hold government accountable for issues that are causing xenophobia,” said one of the marchers, Mametlwe Sebei.

Sindy Sibiya, a Mamelodi domestic worker, took the day off work to show her support for foreign nationals.

"Xenophobia cannot continue. We love our country and we appreciate that we need to help others as they did during the harshest times in the country."

She said she saw the effects of xenophobia when her son told her he had assaulted a foreign national.

"I saw the anger in my son's eyes and I decided that I needed to make a change in my house. It is hard to face up to your own faults. I was shocked to hear what my son and his friends had done and I wanted to make sure I lead by example."

Sibiya said she decided to join the march to educate herself and her family on the meaning of ubuntu.

"My family was in the struggle. My uncles were in exile. How can I hate someone who welcomed my family into their country when we needed help the most?"

Sebei said they would not be deterred by their rejection from the presidency.

"We are not going to give them a choice but to respond to our demands. We are going to mobilise in our communities," Sebei said.

Read more on:    pretoria  |  protests  |  xenophobia

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