NEWS & ANALYSIS

Criminal acts masked as xenophobia condemned – COSATU

Federation says these criminal elements do not act on behalf of all SAns

COSATU condemns the criminal acts masked and reported as Xenophobia

1 April 2019

The Congress of South African Trade Unions condemns in the strongest terms the developments in KZN with the attacks and looting of shops belonging to non-South African residents and stealing of their belongings.

We have watched with despair and concern the criminal act by some South Africans during the spate of violence against foreign nationals and their properties. These criminal elements do not act on behalf of all South Africans, they must be dealt with and experience the full might of the law. There is no excuse whatsoever that can make this intolerable behaviour acceptable. These criminals are an enemy to the good reputation that South Africa is striving to uphold.

While we accept that there are elements of xenophobic targeting of foreign African Nationals, South Africans are loving and welcoming and generally not xenophobic. We know too well that these acts happen mostly where people are struggling with poverty and these people generally live harmoniously together irrespective of where in Africa they come from. It takes just one or two disgruntled person(s) with criminal intend provoking the desperation due to poverty to mobilise such behaviour. We make no mistake in taking this as if it is fully xenophobia, we understand that there are criminals who are hell bound to tarnish the image of our country and they must be brought to book, criminally charged and convicted. South Africa did not get here on its own, S.A. was carried on the backs of the very same people of the African countries some of us are attacking today.

South Africans need to be educated and understand the impact of their behaviour on the country as a whole, that South Africa does not operate in silo, we are not an island but we exist and operate within a collective of other countries particularly African Countries who consider us as brothers and sisters, countries who know where we come from as a country and have sweat blood in support of our struggle. As some of our own attack foreign African Nationals living in South Africa, we must not forget that we have our own, who are also living and working in other countries within the continent. We must be careful lest we stab ourselves in the back losing our own when we need them the most.

To keep our international standing and our economy improving, we need others. Many of the people we are attacking are active in our economy, therefore, contributing immensely to our economy.  We see the element of outright disregard for the rule of law by some within our communities and they must be exposed and brought to book. We call on all peace-loving South Africans to whistle blow on those perpetrators of violence and thieves so the properties of our brothers and sisters can be recovered.

We have seen a number of fake news and the use of old photos some not even of South African origin. In this regard we condemn the role of Media in fuelling this behaviour in the manner they report on these matters. We need responsible journalism that is informed by true reflections and not assumptions. We need our media to strive to promote peace and security rather than fuel conflict in the continent.

We need to bring all those displaced by this violence back to their homes and their peaceful and safe re-integration depends on all of us as South Africans. Let us work together to bring them home and help them with essentials and sharable things they may need to rebuild and survive. Let us show them, same brotherly love, we enjoyed when we were in need of their help to fight the injustice of apartheid.

We remain resolute in our stance against any criminality, racism and xenophobic behaviour. We commit to continue our work in educating our communities about xenophobia and its impact on all of us as Africans. We need to ensure cultural integration also happens where we get to learn and have a deeper understanding of who we all are and for harmonisation of our communities.

We have to deal with the question of the root of all things xenophobic and racist and put that as part of a campaign to educate and build consciousness to reduce and eventually eliminate the spate of targeted violence on foreign nationals in South Africa. 

Issued by Sizwe Pamla, National Spokesperson, COSATU, 1 April 2019