Stop Ongoing Xenophobic Violence in Durban: We Demand Full Protection of our Non-Local Comrades in Kwa-Zulu Natal
Global South Against Xenophobia (GSAX)
Covid-19 People’s Coalition (C19PC)
Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR)
One Voice Of All Hawkers Association
13 March 2021
Stop Ongoing Xenophobic Violence in Durban:
We Demand Full Protection of our Non-Local Comrades in Kwa-Zulu Natal
Global South Against Xenophobia and the Anti-Repression Working Group of the C-19 People’s Coalition, Lawyers for Human Rights and One Voice for All Hawkers Association strongly condemn the current attacks on non-locals in the Durban CBD in KwaZulu-Natal. Our message is clear: the just people of South Africa will not tolerate any form of xenophobia and these hate crimes must be stopped immediately.
The refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants targeted are poor black people attempting to make an honest, modest living as street hawkers. Their efforts are worthy, given the lack of services and basics such as food and health services for non-locals by government. Amongst those who have fled their homes and taken refuge in local churches are women, children and babies.
We reject misleading narratives portraying non-locals as criminals, bent on taking jobs from locals. Whilst accepting every society has people with criminal tendencies, it is unfair to label poor and working-class black immigrants as criminals; we appreciate their significant contributions to academia, science and medicine in South Africa as well as their enriching our diverse culture and country’s economy through payment of VAT and other taxes in the Republic.
Video footage shows the use of sjamboks on the victims and arson to destroy their stalls and goods. We note that even SAPS is not permitted use of sjamboks (banned in 1989 when Apartheid police used them against our people); these inflict grievous bodily damage, including open flesh wounds, infection and psychological trauma. These attacks, claimed in the name of the historic uMkhonto we Sizwe, the ANC’s military wing in our anti-apartheid struggle, have been rejected by MKVMA. The perpetrators claimed association to the ruling party is not only cowardly for targeting vulnerable immigrants but defeats South Africa’s commitment to human rights and justice.
Is this violence then the scapegoating of non-locals by reactionary forces with nefarious intentions to destabilize the province by attempting to fan hatred amongst locals against non-locals? If so, we urge the free-thinking people of Kwa-Zulu Natal not to fall for such dirty tricks.
We give notice that we, the freedom loving people of South Africa, will leave no stone unturned in seeing the law takes its course and the state acts decisively to protect non-locals. These are our fellow comrades in our African struggle for dignity, freedom and peace; we will not allow reactionary forces to paint South Africans as an inhumane and counter-revolutionary people. We thus regard this violence as a direct onslaught on us all. An injury to one is an injury to all!
We maintain South Africa is a democracy and open society for which many have made sacrifices in the past and we will continue fighting for its political, economic and social transformation until we achieve radical equality for all. Included in this vision are those who come to live amongst us in our natural-wealth rich country for refuge and/or socio-economic opportunities.
The black working poor who arrive here enrich our land via the contributions they make and personal friendships and affective relations we mutually build to heal after our long isolation from the rest of Africa under apartheid.
We stand in solidarity with those victimised in this cowardly manner; and call out the perpetrators’ pretence of acting in the name of South Africa’s veteran liberation soldiers.
We stress our efforts as civil society are limited without decisive political will and ethical actions by the state. We thus demand government immediately intervene to root out the perpetrators, including those orchestrating behind the scenes, and hold them accountable. They must be identified, arrested, prosecuted and jailed to the maximum penalty allowed by the law.
South Africa is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, its 1967 protocol and the 1969 OAU Convention regarding Specific Aspects of Refugees in Africa; and has enacted the Refugee Act, committing to its responsibility among the world’s nations.
We thus call on all freedom-loving people to email the president – PresidentRSA@presidency.gov.za:
- To protest this xenophobic violence in the name of MKMVA and demand it be stopped via swift and effective visible policing and legal actions
- To announce measures to protect non-local communities in KZN and elsewhere, including compensating victims for injuries and loss of property
- To announce and implement proper integration for non-locals so government is seen as taking seriously its domestic, regional and international obligations to refugees and migrants, and
- To denounce the reactionary forces attempting to fan hatred and cause chaos in KZN by identifying and applying the law to them.
Issued by the Covid-19 People’s Coalition
For further information contact:
Danmore Chuma, GSAX – 062 482 1238
Tauriq Jenkins, C19PC Anti-Repression Working Group – 064 734 2569
Sharon Ekambaram, LHR – 083 634 8924
Julekha Latib, One Voice Of All Hawkers Association – 074 292 5805
Roshila Nair, C19PC Basic Needs Working Group and GSAX – 064 877 0434