JOHANNESBURG – THE recent murder of two Congolese refugee brothers has cast the spotlight back into the recurrent xenophobic violence in South Africa, with fears rising among the migrant communities of such violations could return to haunt the country at a larger scale ahead of divisive elections next year.
There are even warnings of locals eventually “revolting” against the government if the administration failed to address service delivery issues, which are seen as the cause of locals venting their anger against foreign nationals as economic opportunities decline.
Earlier this week, members of a local community in the Adams Mission area of Durban allegedly burnt to death two siblings from the Democratic republic of Congo (DRC) in an alleged xenophobic attack.
Dr Vusumuzi Sibanda, chairperson of the African Diaspora Forum, accused politicians of complicity in the violence.
“The mood on migrants is sombre because we have seen politicians and notable leaders going on the attack on migrants about crime, overcrowding at hospitals, migrants crossing from Mozambique to collect grants, buying groceries and going back. These claims have neither been substantiated nor empirical evidence provided,” he said in an interview with CAJ News.
Sibanda said prominent parties like the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and Democratic Alliance (DA), the main opposition, were at the helm of these claims, which critics say are a ploy by the parties to deliver.
“We have written to the IEC (Independent Electoral Commission) and are considering approaching the Equality Court because these irresponsible utterances constitute hate speech and incitement of the public,” he disclosed.
Sibanda said while the government had the capacity to deal with any full-scale outbreak of xenophobia, a “revolt” by disillusioned locals could occur.
“The problem is they (government) are cultivating for it (xenophobia) and leaving it until very late, which could strain resources and lead to a revolt against government for failure to deliver services on time,” he warned.
“The South African public is very discontented at the moment because of lack of jobs, service delivery issues. This is not good because it will easily bring about a revolution. So, government must be careful and ensure they deal with these issues satisfactorily rather than to speak a different language in the public but sing a different tune when behind shadows.”
Sibanda said inasmuch as leaders must be responsible in their utterances, warned journalists should equally be cautious in their coverage of crime.
“When they report on crime, they should not be sensational and always put the migrant name in front. Criminals, not migrants, commit crime. They could be migrants or locals but bottom line is they are criminals. The classification of migrants is very dangerous and inciting.”
Sibanda urged law enforcers to be impartial in their investigations, amid allegations police did not respond promptly to the incident in Durban where the Congolese men were killed.
“If the police do not respond to migrant cries, it shows that we are in a state of lawlessness and this will encourage these murders and fights. This could encourage other people to break the law or even migrants to defend themselves like what we have seen during the looting of foreign nationals’ shops,” Sibanda said.
This week, police said a case had been opened at the local KwaMakhutha police station.
Police dismissed reports they did not respond promptly to the incident.
– CAJ News