Government approach on Xenophobia and Afrophobia disheartening.
The current seeming calm in the country is a huge sigh of relief on the migrant community though it would be imprudent to sit down and think that this is over. For many years this has occurred, and people forget and live on until they are caught up in the same mess again and in the last few years it has been more frequent and brutal. Yet every day, we hear that there is no Xenophobia or Afrophobia but criminality. Interestingly the President of the country has sent an envoy of three persons to assure strategic countries about the safety and the calm in the country and apparently to apologies. Obviously non-strategic countries can have their nationals killed it matters not.
We know its easy to point a finger and difficult to bring solutions, we are also not in anyway campaigning for political space or want to criticize government, we are aggrieved by the narrative particularly from government which has a duty to all the people within its borders. We wonder that if the President has sent an envoy, what is it for especially when even in his speech he never acknowledged that the attack was on foreign nationals? Is the government apologizing for crime in the country? That’s the first. The level of government disinformation about the level of damage on the migrant community is appalling to the extent of only claiming 12 deaths and claiming that only 2 of those are migrants.
We know you can never deal with a problem unless you acknowledge its existence, this denial is not helping the situation. We are of the view that the aggrieved South Africans, no matter how small the number, who have engaged on attacking migrants should have been engaged and a process of dialoguing initiated to facilitate an understanding and a better way of dealing with all issues raised before this massacre took place. The government needs to deal decisively with people taking the law into their own hands and self-help in this regard.
The people who have been directly affected, who have lost property and loved ones have not been reached out to, but what seems to matter is the PR process of painting the country in a good light and yet inside things are there is pandemonium. In our view the government
should be on the ground engaging, helping, protecting the vulnerable, and building bridges, that would be better than investing on an outside process when the inside remains somber. We still have people at the halls, not ideal for human habitation, but government is worried about how other countries view South Africa while the directly affected people sleep in environments that strip them off, of their human dignity and are barely human.
It appears to us that the government is not concerned and does not want migrants particularly African migrants and those from Asia and will allow many to be killed and abused with little to no timely intervention and blame it on some failure like intelligence while the deed has been done and probably desired result achieved. On the 30th of August 2019 we released a Press Statement raising our concerns on the weekend of the 1st of September and the outcomes of the weekend were catastrophic, we did not predict but we were merely reacting to the circulating threats which were in the public domain for everyone to see. It would appear in our view that a certain number had to die first, and a certain level of fear inculcated in migrants so that they should even flee on their own.
This far we have not a single person arrested for the murder of migrants since 2008 and yet quite a few for the murder of South Africans, the deadly arson on property and businesses none arrested but only people arrested for the lesser crime of looting. The question that begs answering is whether we are moving forward or not in dealing with the attack of foreign nationals living in South Africa to excuse the dreaded word that describes this act. We are all role players in this mess, and we need government as the only legitimate authority in the country, custodian of laws, processes and all resources to provide direction but its destressing to see the nonchalant approach and even the disregard of the plight of the affected/victims. Government should be taking fully accountability of all the chaos but infact its placing the blame on criminality, one wonders whose responsibility is it to deal with criminals in the country?
The architects of the violence, murders, destruction of businesses and property, roam the streets planning their next attack but government has moved on and now is cleaning the country’s image, and the dead bodies, and destroyed lives still litter the streets. We are shell-shocked, bewildered and at a loss for the appropriate reaction to all this.