Open Letter to: Premier and the People of the Western Cape

 In C19PC Statements, Media Alert

Open Letter issued by:
Global South Against Xenophobia (GSAX)/COVID-19 People’s Coalition

To: The Premier and People of the Western Cape

Stop Xenophobia NOW: No to Dudula’s Xenophobic Operations in
the Western Cape


Global South Against Xenophobia (GSAX) notes the intended launch by Operation Dudula
of their xenophobic movement in Cape Town on Saturday, 14 May 2022. We have serious
concerns about and objections to this happening in the Western Cape, and wish to bring to
your notice the violence and rights’ abrogations promoted by this movement. It is important
for the authorities and people of the Western Cape to know that Dudula’s presence will
result in serious conflict and suffering, especially in working class and poor communities,
as has occurred in Gauteng.

A poster currently circulating on social media is misleading Capetonians about Dudula’s
goals, mission and attempt to pass itself of a social justice movement focused on improving
the country’s economy by expelling non-locals/foreign national in order to put South Africans
first in line for jobs and business opportunities. It is claiming preventing non-locals from
having legitimate work and business opportunities will bring peace to the country and that
non-locals are largely responsible for crime in the Republic. Dudula is promoting these as the
reasons for poverty in South Africa, and are misrepresenting non-locals as contributing nothing
of value to the country.

These are outrageous and dangerous claims, aimed at riling people and inciting hatred and
violence against poor and working class non-locals. The truth is, it is not refugees, asylum
seekers and migrants seeking to make a life here from African and Asian countries who are
responsible for post-Apartheid SA’s gross inequalities. It is the ruling and all governing parties
that are responsible for this failure due to their mismanagement, corruption and unethical and
inefficient conduct as politicians. Neo-liberal economic pursuits favoring profits over people and
criminalizing of the poor are responsible for enduring unemployment and poverty. The suffering
of the majority people in South Africa, with little improvement in quality of life since the end of
apartheid is the cause of justifiable anger. However, the situation is exploited by right wing, fascist
and opportunistic groups to target the marginal non-local population in South Africa. Yet the
vulnerability of non-locals is the result of poor integration policy and services for them.

Further, the emergence of right wing, fascist groups in our democracy is dangerous. Operation
Dudula, since it’s inception in May last year and it’s accelerated activities in Gauteng since February
this year, evidences a violent agenda and disposition. Dudula has, disgracefully, embarked on physical,
verbal and psychological attacks against non-locals. It’s members undertake unlawful raids on the
properties (homes, businesses, street trading stalls), confiscate and damage their goods and properties,
and conduct illegal evictions. They also do spot checks for papers that result in assaults and murders
of those targeted. Inhumane, barbaric live burnings of non-locals in Gauteng and Kwa-Zulu Natal have
been directly linked to Dudula in the past three months. It’s members are also known to terrorize and
extort money from non-locals, threatening them with burning and death if they do not pay up; the late
Mr Nyati in Diepsloot and an unknown victim in Soldier’s Way in Durban are two such cases. Community
activists and the media report that Dudula members threaten to raid and close the business of non-locals
if they do not pay them during raids. Numerous such incidents have been reported to the SAHRC and
UNHCR for investigation.

Effectively, Dudula has reintroduced the draconian pass system into South African society. This must not
be tolerated given the hard fight put up by the people of SA and the world to abolish this demeaning system
during the anti-apartheid struggle. Thus, the claim by Dudula that their launch and presence in the Western
Cape will be peaceful and disciplined is not to be trusted. Actions to ensure they do not succeed in their
nefarious and criminal operating in the Western Cape are urgently needed. This must necessarily involve
the Western Cape provincial and local governments. Dudula must not be allowed to do whatever they please
in the province, and should be strictly monitored and held accountable for any and all abrogations, including
hate speech, incitement of violence and any other actions that effectively break the law. The Premier must
bring pressure on the SAPS and Metro Police to ensure that any action by Dudula that leads to violence during it’s proposed march is met with the required police intervention.

Further, the public must be educated and encouraged to take a firm stance against xenophobia through an effective public education campaign. An adequate, dedicated budget for this is needed, with partnerships with local community activists and leaders as well as civil society organizations prioritized. The needs and challenges of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants must be listened to and responded to effectively. These actions are critical to promote social cohesion and prevent violence and loss of lives in our communities.

We wish to also note that the poor and working class people of the Western Cape, as in the rest of the Republic, are constantly and unjustly criminalized for the very poverty foisted on them as well as for their attempts to merely survive. This is neither wise nor fair; the effectiveness of governance may be judged by the society it produces, which in turn is judged by how it’s most vulnerable members are treated. The Western Cape has a proud anti-apartheid history—the home of the United Democratic Front (UDF) that fought for the inclusion of all people in South Africa’s bounty. This history asserted the predominant wish of its people to move away from unjust governance in order to build a peaceful society in which all peoples can thrive. This is still the case. The opportunity to assert this via a decisive anti-xenophobic stance that engages local and non-local groups to work together towards this should not be missed.

We therefore recommend the Western Cape government and local wards take immediate steps to stop Dudula gaining a foothold in the province. As well, they must show leadership in engaging the people of the Western Cape including via civil society and community leaders—in anti-xenophobic actions. This will go a long way in preventing needless waste of money stemming from xenophobic conflict that could be used for job creation and improved social services for all. Such efforts will ensure the building of our province as a home where all feel a sense of belonging and well being.

For further information, please contact:
Roshila Nair—064 877 0434
Mercy Dube—072 599 7688

Endorsed by:

  1. Assembly of the Unemployed (AOU)
  2. People Against Suffering, Oppression and Poverty (PASSOP)
  3. People Against Apartheid and Fascism (PAAF)
  4. Ndifuna Ukwazi (NU)
  5. Interfaith Justice Coalition (IJC)
  6. Ngoketunjia Union (NUCA—Cape Town)
  7. Mankon Cultural and Development Associations (Cape Town)
  8. Ambazonian Association (Cape Town)
  9. Trust Sibanda
  10. Voice of Azania
  11. Kopanang Africa Against Xenophobia (KAAX)
  12. Africa Revival Foundation (ARF)
  13. Ke Nako
  14. Phillipi CAN
  15. Chronicles of Refugees and Immigrants (ChRISA)
  16. Lumumba Chia
  17. Rev. Dr. Trevor Amafu Ntlhola
  18. Pastor Nigel Branken
  19. Fundi Nzimande (Gender and Peace Activist)
  20. African Diaspora Workers Network (ADWN)
  21. Zimbabwe Solidarity Network (ZSN)
  22. Makause Community Development Forum (MACODEFO)
  23. Africa Integrated Platform
  24. Leratong Advise Centre
  25. University of Johannesburg Centre for Sociological Practice (UJ CSRP)
  26. Zimbabwe Exemption Permit Holders Association (ZEPHA)
  27. Refugee Social Services (RSS)
  28. Just Associates Southern Africa (JASS)
  29. Asanda Benya (UCT, Sociology)
  30. Consortium of Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA)
  31. UCT South-South Migration and Inequality Hub (rep Dr Faisal Garba)
  32. Melani Alperstein (health rights activist)
  33. Dr Gordon Isaacs
  34. Asijiki Campaign
  35. Naledi
  36. United Family (UniFam)


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