VOICES | Xenophobia has no place in South Africa


(Photo: Demonstration by hundreds of Mozambiqueans in Maputo, Mozambique against xenophobia in South Africa, 25 April 2015. EPA/ANTONIO SILVA)

Opinion Article By Solam Yves Ludidi


I have come across a lot of South African citizens who call themselves patriots, but refer to foreigners as “amakwerekwere” or “amagrigamba”. This kind of discrimination should be condemned at all costs. Government’s pledge to end xenophobia by launching the National Action Plan, is a crucial step towards restoring respect for human dignity.
For years, people of foreign origin have suffered at the hands of South Africans. Xenophobic violence dates back to 2008, when 62 people died, including South Africans who were mistakenly killed because of their darker skin tone.  
The senseless xenophobic attack against three spaza shops owners, which occurred in Durban’s China Mall earlier this year, was a barbaric act of inhumanity. It was reported that the victims were chased away by residents of Kenville, Red Hill and Avoca, with the intention to take over businesses owned by foreigners. One of the victims is said to be a 45-year-old woman, who died after falling through a ceiling while running away from the mob.
It was unfortunate that the attack took place just four days after the Anti-Racism Week, which is held annually from March 14-21. The week-long campaign includes programmes such as workshops, discussions, protest action, lectures and assemblies against racism. These programmes take place nationally, and culminate on Human Rights Day and the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Racist remarks that are made by prominent public figures, can also instigate violence against migrants. We shall remember that a few years ago, Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini, called for foreigners living in South Africa to go home. In 2016, His Majesty again said izinduna should know who the foreigners among them were. And there were those who supported his call.
It is worth noting that these were the same foreigners, who accommodated our freedom fighters during the apartheid era. They played a huge role in South Africa’s struggle for everybody’s liberation. It is therefore, for this reason, that racial discrimination has no place in a society such as ours. Because people from neighbouring nation’s are our brothers and sisters. 
I am positive that the government’s plan will bring back the spirit of Ubuntu to our shores.