Attacks against foreign nationals is not merely a crime,its a crime against humanity

2013-06-08 14:32

Attacks against foreign nationals is not merely a crime,its a crime against humanity.Finish and Klaar. Government must show that it has the resolve to put an end to this odium that is eating into the fabric of our constitutional values. Enough of syrupy comments and show us that it has a firm grip or else once more our economy and our hopes to pull ourselves out of a nosedive will be dashed and votaries of apartheid will celebrate its inability to effectively govern a country!

Whilst Government has notably condemned the recent spike in violence against foreign nationals in South Africa, its insistence that such attacks are motivated purely by crime and not xenophobia is stretching the bounds of credibility.

The Daily Maverick ,an online publication quotes government as saying on 29 May 2013 that “Cabinet is cautious not to label this violence as xenophobia because preliminary evidence (allegedly indicated that) these acts (could) be driven primarily by criminality" does not convince those of us close to ground zero. In KZN we have one Indianophobe Phumlani Mfeka alleged CEO of the Mayibuye Africa Forum who has gone public and who has started sowing the seeds which, if they flower, could unleash yet another storm against Indians reminiscent of the 1949 anti-Indian riots that enveloped areas like Cato Manor in Durban in a xenophobic inferno that lost hundred of lives. In context this is what he is quoted as saying in an open letter to an (Indian) mayor of Newcastle who took issue when a traffic officer allegedly likened him to the Guptas.He said that "First and foremost, you are an Indian and, contrary to what you believe and what you perhaps have been taught, South Africa is an African country with its land in its totality and proportion rightfully belonging to its indigenous African people"

I have heard anecdotal accounts from foreign nationals who run a similar gauntlet every day in our beloved country.Why should this be countenanced?

Today its the turn of the Somalis. Tomorrow?

I have seen, a soul searing video allegedly filmed in Port Elizabeth depicting a Somali man lying prone being pelted with stones, rocks and other heavy objects by a mob which seemed to include children dressed in school uniform.

Who can forget Ernesto Alfabeto Nhamuave, a 35-year-old Mozambican who was burned alive during the xenophobic violence in South Africa in the May of 2008? While police action this time around has been swift, justice for many of those involved in the xenophobic attacks has been painfully slow.

Article 14(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights provides that " everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.” Furthermore,SA is a signatory to the relevant international convention for the protection of the rights of asylum seekers and this government's half-baked response is alarming and encouraging xenophobes act with impunity.

Our Constitution guarantees every person, not merely South Africans, the right to life and it is apparent that this imprimatur of the Constitution has not filtered down to the ordinary person on the street because, I have received calls from foreign nationals who are licensed street vendors in Durban on Friday 7 th June 2013 that authorities were allegedly targeting them for alleged infractions whilst leaving locals alone.

Furthermore , in terms of our Constitution, South Africa belongs to all who live in it, and therefore its unacceptable to remain silent or lay the blame of criminals and excuses lik poverty,frustration at service delivery failures etc.

Lets not get sidetracked by former President Nelson Mandela's deteriorating health, otherwise his declarator with its fruitful promise " Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another" will turn to ashes together with our hopes and vision of a constitutional enterprise valuing in practice and deeds hallowed principles enshrined in the Bill of Rights in the Constitution.

Life in South Africa, to quote Khadija Patel of The Daily Maverick "like outrage, is cheap" but is it becoming of South Africans to stand as silent witness in a spreading odium that reminds us of what silence and acquiescence did to oxygenate apartheid's ashes for over six decades?

I don't believe we can.I can't accept flimsy limp wristed excuses that government is making.We need government to show that it will act decisively and to douse the flames of hatred that explode with scary repetitiveness.

Saber Ahmed Jazbhay

Follow me @jazlaw24

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