Xenophobia: SA needs to unite against violence and hate – DA

Phumzile Van Damme says attacks that shut down the streets of Durban central were highly co-ordinated

Xenophobia: SA needs to stand united against violence and hate

15 April 2015

Today the DA visited the largest transit camp providing shelter to approximately thousands of foreign nationals displaced by xenophobic attacks in KwaZulu-Natal. To date six people have been killed, hundreds of shops have been looted, closed down or burnt, and a wave of terror and criminality has been unleased on foreign nationals.

At the transit camp in Chatsworth, Durban, my colleagues Sizwe Mchunu, Dianne Kohler Barnard, Zakhele Mbhele and I found people living in inhumane conditions. 

The DA is gravely concerned at how well-coordinated the xenophobic attacks that shut down the streets of Durban central were. The coordination of these attacks must be probed by Crime Intelligence. The criminals who are driving this violence and looting must face the full might of the law. 

Today xenophobic violence has arisen on the streets of the Johannesburg CBD too. This reinforces the urgency of the call for Crime Intelligence to probe these attacks.

This cannot be the South Africa of today. We are meant to be a nation grounded in human rights, and compassion for others. We cannot allow a descent into violence and the murdering of our neighbours on the streets of this land. South Africa must collectively condemn and fight against xenophobia. We must stand united against hate and violence.

South Africa has been a beacon of hope and a model of rights and constitutionalism to the whole world.

Yet today, as xenophobia is encouraged by the powerful elite, our nation’s founding values are being pulled apart. We are not a nation of hatred and evil.

The fires of Xenophobia have been fanned by the reckless utterances of senior leaders, and the DA condemns this in the strongest terms. Those who incite violence are guilty of violence themselves.

Gwede Mantashe called for foreigners to be rounded up and placed into refugee camps.

King Goodwill Zwelithini is on record calling for foreigners to pack their bags and leave South Africa.

Edward Zuma yesterday called for an end to what he called unnecessary accommodation of “foreign nationals that shoot our mothers and sisters” and supported the calls of King Zwelithini.

These xenophobic calls should be condemned by every South African.

Mr Mantashe, Mr Zuma and King Zwelithini should be reminded of the role that foreign African neighbour states played in the fight against apartheid, some housing and accommodating the leaders of the struggle for democracy. The hypocrisy of the ANC today is truly exposed.

The DA commends the efforts of NGOs, community members, churches and other organisations that continue to provide assistance to those living in transit camps.

It is up to every single person in South Africa to take a stand against xenophobia in all forms.

We must not stray from the goal of creating a South Africa where everyone, regardless of race, nationality, culture or gender feels safe and at home.

Statement issued by Phumzile Van Damme, DA National Spokesperson, April 15 2015