Members of the Mkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA) who have been accused of xenophobia, recently met in Durban where they resolved to intensify their campaign against foreign shop owners.
The meeting was held at Durban’s Coastlands Hotel on Sunday.
In video and audio clips of the meeting sent to The Witness, the war vets agreed to launch a seven-day campaign to remove foreign shop owners operating in the city and assist locals to take over the businesses.
The war vets, who were yet to finalise the start date of the campaign, also resolved to target foreign nationals operating as vendors around Durban’s Workshop Mall.
The campaign would be “the final push” to the MKMVA members’ campaign to get rid of the foreign-owned businesses in Durban before shifting the campaign to Pietermaritzburg.
Terrified foreign shop owners recently held a meeting with eThekwini Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda, where they pleaded with him to intervene and stop the attacks.
However, Kaunda has himself since become the target of the war vets, who during the Sunday meeting referred to him as a foreign national “kisser”.
In a video taken at the meeting, an MKMVA could been heard chanting: “Down with mayor Kaunda! Down!”.
While Pietermaritzburg-based MKMVA senior member Babsy Sithole, who is one of the organisation’s leaders at the forefront of the campaign, declined to confirm the planned next round of attacks, he confirmed that the meeting did take place.
“It is a fact that as MKMVA members there have been a number of things happening in our cities, such as eThekwini and Pietermaritzburg, which we are totally opposed to.
“Unlike before when we would engage government leaders on issues, we have since come to the realisation that the only language which government understood was that of practical action,” he said.
MKMVA members, who are also known for invading municipality offices across the province to demand jobs and tenders from council leaders, are currently also involved in the campaign to rid the freight sector of foreign truck drivers.
In the past the MKMVA members would hold protests that involved few members. However, the size of the protest have become bigger and more impactful in recent months.
A senior MKMVA member who is opposed to the attacks on foreign nationals believes that the campaign is being funded by local business owners around eThekwini.
“If you can recall, there had been local businesses who used to organise marches against foreign-owned shops around Durban. But the protest had not been effective. What these local business people then did was to enlist the services of a faction of the MKMVA.
“They are funding them. Where have you heard of protesters holding meetings in posh hotels such as the Coastlands? They are being funded,” the source said.
However, Sithole denied that the MKMVA members were a hired mob.
“What is happening at the moment is that MKMVA members are working with various sectors of the society, many of whom, like us, had doors slammed on their faces by our own government leaders.
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“The collaboration with various sectors had made it possible for us to pull resources together,” he said.
Kaunda called on the war vets to use the correct channels to lodge whatever grievances they might have.
“We have an open door policy. However, what we will always condemn is the use of violence to attain whatever objectives people may have,” Kaunda’s spokesperson, Mluleki Mtungwa, said.
DA community safety provincial spokesperson Sharon Hoosen called on Community Safety MEC Bheki Ntuli to act on the MKMVA threats as a matter of urgency.
“The MEC for Safety and Security must bring calm and implement increased enforcement at the hotspots in the interim. These attacks on foreign nationals will continue unless there is a strong showing of the law enforcement officers,” she said.