Arrest violent xenophobes! – Human Rights Day marchers

Activists and solidarity organisations have organised to counter the xenophobia being fanned by the vigilante group, 'Operation Dudula'. Archive photo by Nobathembu Ndzengu

South Africans and African migrants march against the current xenophobic attacks.

Despite the Johannesburg march being stopped by the metro police, the Cape Town leg of the anti-xenophobia march went ahead on Monday to hand over a memorandum of demands to parliament. The Kopanang Africa Against Xenophobia (KAAX) march was, according to a statement by the Socio-Economic Rights Institute (SERI), prohibited by the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department because it “appears that other groups, such as Operation Dudula, pose a threat to those intending to march against xenophobia”. SERI has launched an urgent application in the Johannesburg High Court to overturn the prohibition. “The matter is set to be heard on Tuesday, 22 March 2022 or when allocated for hearing by the court. The application seeks to have the decision to prohibit the march set aside in order for the march to take place on the rescheduled date of 26 March 2022,” reads the statement.

Speaking to the crowd of about 100 protesters outside parliament on Monday, community activist, Nandi Vangqa-Mgijima said that politicians and government are fuelling xenophobic attacks as they are using the African migrants as scapegoats for their own failures. “They deflect the issues and they see external migrants as their defence and divert our attention so that we become enemies and fight our fellow brothers and sisters even though they are facing the socio-economic ills that we are also faced with. By killing a fellow African you are not going to get jobs, education, health,” she said.

“The answers are not going to come from violence. They will come out of us taking the streets, joining hands together demanding that this capitalist government create jobs and not give us crumbs. They must not commit to giving us R350, we want decent employment, we want food, we want houses, we want Home Affairs to be functional so that we cannot have ‘illegal immigrants’,” said Vangqa-Mgijima.

Also read:  “We are all Africans”

Addressing the protesters in isiXhosa, Aziza Bahati Idowa from Ubuntu Rural Women and Youth Movement said that it hurts to see black people killing other people. “We are the same, it hurts to see black people killing each other. We are not monkeys, we are human beings. We are here because we want to live. Being xenophobic is unAfrican. We are many foreigners in South Africa and the xenophobia is directed at black Africans. Let’s not kill each other. I have children that were born in South Africa and they need to prosper here in Africa,” said Idowa, who is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Kopanang African Against Xenophobia marchers waved different countries’ flags, and the Pride flag, as they made their way to parliament.

Wendy Pekeur from Ubuntu Rural Women and Youth Movement said that she finds it sad that on Human Rights Day, they had to defend the rights and freedoms of immigrants. “There are lots of foreigners in South Africa but it’s black on black violence. People are fighting over the crumbs whilst those who own the means of production, the capitalist who own the land and the riches of this country, continue with life as normal and our people are suffering and are fighting each other and that is wrong,” said Pekeur.

Among the demands endorsed by the 23 organisations of the coalition, KAAX demanded the immediate arrest and prosecution of the ring leaders of violence against foreign nationals, the immediate re-opening of refugee reception centres around the country, and they called for a clear and unequivocal statement from the ruling party condemning the current xenophobic attacks.

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