7 April 2015

“Government’s failure to address poverty, unemployment and social ills and recognise the problem of xenophobia is the real cause of violence against foreigners”

Ubunye bama Hostela Nezakhiwo Zawo (UbHNZ) calls for calm in the wake of the recent xenophobic attacks against foreigners across Durban and strongly condemns the violence, damage to property and loss of livelihoods – particularly to women and children who have been affected.

As UbHNZ we state that if King Goodwill Zwelithini, as father of the Zulu nation sees something wrong with his children – the Zulu people – he must be allowed to raise these issues. We must also respect the freedom of speech enshrined in our Constitution. But we need to listen carefully to what the King said, understand the meaning behind his words and not use them as an excuse to commit criminal acts of violence and hate. We must not use words as a reason to behave like animals, we must always respect one another, each other’s cultures and human rights.

We do not believe that the King called for foreigners to be attacked, killed and their homes and businesses looted as has happened in Isipingo and other areas. We urge the police to take strong action against those who carried out these senseless acts. We suggest that the King’s statements were based on concern for our youth and the social ills they are facing daily in our society and were not a call for violence against foreign nationals.

However, we cannot deny that drugs have become a major problem in our communities. We cannot deny that some foreigners are involved in the drug trade, this is happening in all our neighbourhoods from eMlazi to uMhlanga Rocks. The impact of drugs on our youth has had a devastating effect on our communities, leading to high crime levels, such as housebreaking, copper cable theft and robbery. Drugs have also increased violence against women and children and increased poverty as children steal money from their parents or sell their meager possessions to buy drugs. We cannot deny the hopelessness of our youth when they are drowning in drugs or the pain it causes when we see how the dignity, identity, culture and self-respect of our once proud people have been eaten up by drugs.

We cannot deny that some people from outside our country do see opportunities to make money illegally and come to South Africa to commit crimes in our communities. We know that these people enter our country often illegally which threatens our country’s security and increases our problems with crime.

We cannot pretend that cheap Chinese goods that have flooded our shops have not led to the loss of jobs and closure of local manufacturing industries. As poor people we often have no choice but buy these cheap Fong Kong goods because it is all we can afford, yet we know it damages our own economy and worsens unemployment. We cannot deny our frustration at this situation.

We cannot deny that poverty and poor access to resources and services often causes competition between local communities and foreigners which can lead to violence when people who are struggling to feed their families become jealous of the success of others. We cannot deny that the shortage of affordable housing has led to overcrowding which is increased when refugees from other countries also need food and shelter.

As UbHNZ, we cannot deny all of these issues are not impacting heavily on our communities and we believe that these are the issues about which the King raised his voice and pleaded with government to address. We must however, recognize the reasons behind these problems and not take our anger and frustration out on foreigners who are not to blame, but on our government who has, for too long, ignored the social problems destroying our communities.

We need to understand that it is the government’s policies that have led to the flood of foreign goods that has destroyed local businesses and increased unemployment. We need to recognize that poverty and poor service delivery has been caused by the government’s corruption and greed. We must agree that government’s allocation of construction tenders to political allies who either steal the money, or construct poor quality buildings that often endanger the lives of poor communities, has worsened the housing shortage and overcrowding. We need to see that government officials’ corruption at our borders has resulted in foreigners entering our country illegally while corruption at the Department of Home Affairs has prevented many genuine refugees who have fled terrible conditions in their own countries from obtaining proper documentation. We must look to the police for failing to identify and arrest the real criminals in our communities – regardless of whether they are foreigners or locals – and for taking bribes from drug dealers instead of stamping out the trade. We must blame the state for failing to address the problem of xenophobia in our communities, their denial that it even exists and their failure to encourage greater tolerance and understanding so we may all work together and benefit from each other. We must condemn the failure of government security agencies that focus on political battles and community leaders when they should be dealing with real international crime syndicates that are undermining the security of our country by smuggling huge quantities of drugs and other illegal goods through our borders, harbours and airports. These same security agencies also failed to predict the threat of xenophobic attacks and how it could destabilize our country.

We must remember that many foreigners have helped South Africans by developing businesses, creating jobs and bringing skills to our country. We must welcome these opportunities and the people who bring them and learn from them so we may improve our communities and daily lives.

As UbHNZ, we urge the government to exercise introspection, and reconsider their actions and silence on the issue of xenophobia. We call for calm and discussion so that these problems can be properly dealt with. We ask that all HOSTEL dwellers lay aside their weapons and urge them NOT to engage in acts of violence against foreigners. We support King Goodwill Zwelithini’s call to government to “help us fix our problems and find solutions” and salute all community and political leaders who have shown solidarity and support for foreign communities who have been the targets of xenophobic attacks.

UbHNZ sends sincerest condolences to all who have lost their lives and livelihoods in this senseless violence and urge our communities to listen more carefully to the meaning behind the Kings words – attacking foreigners will only divide our communities and worsen all our suffering. UbHNZ representatives will be visiting the affected community this weekend to show our solidarity, sympathy and support.

We are ALL AFRICAN so let us join hands and live the spirit of UBUNTU!

For more information please contact:
Mthembiseni Thusi: Ubunye bama Hostela Nezakhiwo Zawo Deputy Chairperson / Spokesman:
0810218608 / 0738894385


3 thoughts on “Government must answer for xenophobic attacks

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