Afrophobia behind attacks, says SA minister

via Afrophobia behind attacks, says SA minister – Southern Eye 14 April 2015

CAPE TOWN – The spate of attacks on foreign nationals in KwaZulu-Natal is a symptom of a larger problem of Afrophobia in South African communities, police minister Nathi Nhleko said on Tuesday.

Addresssing journalists in Parliament, along with his colleagues from the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster, Nhleko said those perpetrating the attacks were mostly targeting fellow Africans.

“What you don’t see is you don’t see Australians being chased on the streets, Britons being chased on the streets and similar demands being placed on them that they should be leave the country and so on,” Nhleko said.

“What you effectively see is largely Africans against one another in a sense now. It represents a certain type of political problem that has got to be dealt with by ourselves as South Africans on the one hand.”

The minister said the problem was ideological in nature.

“In a sense, what we are witnessing are actually Afrophobic kind of activities and attacks . . . and resembling all elements of self-hate for an example among Africans and so forth,” he said.

“The evidence seems to show that mainly the attacks are against the Congolese, the Zimbabweans, the Malawians, the Mozambicans, Ethiopians, the Somalis and South African nationals as well.”

Nhleko cited the 2008 xenophobic attacks which were widespread across the country. Of the 62 people killed, 21 were South Africans. Nhleko said the South Africans were attacked because of their darker skin.

The minister ruled out calling in the army at this stage to help quell the violence.

“The situation necessarily has not come to that point to necessitate army deployment. Government agencies have handled that situation relatively quite well,” said Nhleko.

Nhleko said government together with NGOs were assisting foreign nationals by setting up centres to accommodate them.

Currently, 276 displaced foreigners were being accommodated in Isipingo, 196 in Greenwood Park and the number of foreigners seeking help in Chatsworth fluctuated between 800 and one thousand.

Nhleko and his fellow ministers from the JCPS cluster said government was taking a no-nonsense approach in dealing with perpertrators of anti-foreigner violence.

“We want to assert government’s position that any lawlessness will not be tolerated,” Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said.

“Government will not hesitate to enforce the laws of the country and we will continue to act speedily and decisively on any criminal activity in South Africa under any guise.”

Mapisa-Nqakula said at least 48 people had been arrested since the weekend in connection with attacks on foreign nationals.

Additional law enforcement officers were mobilised from around the country and deployed to affected areas to prevent further attacks. – ANA