South Africa

Emmanuel Sithole + South Africa’s Reaction To Xenophobia


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Emmanuel Sithole

Zwelinzima Vavi couldn’t have said it better when addressing media ahead of the “People’s March Against Xenophobia” planned for this Thursday (30,000 expected to march). He called on all trade unions, youth organisations, every religious organisation, every business person, every woman’s organisation, every organisation that represented foreign nationals, and every person who loved “humanity and every person who has been disgusted by what is happening in our country in the past week” to express their collective outrage at the march.

“We are the children of Chief Albert Luthuli. We are the children of Nelson Mandela. The people who have been committing the murders do not represent our values… they do not represent the majority of South Africa,” he said

Over the past few weeks, authorities have been battling sporadic attacks on foreign nationals within South Africa. People have been violently attacked, shops have been looted + torched, and South Africa’s reputation as a haven of tolerance for the tired, the poor, the huddled masses of a turbulent continent has been shaken. With the unemployment rate at 24%, many South Africans accuse foreign nationals of taking jobs from locals. Official data suggests there are about two million foreign nationals in South Africa, but some estimates put the number much higher.

Emmanuel Sithole
A foreign national holds a knife following clashes between a group of locals and police in Durban amid ongoing violence against foreign nationals. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images
Emmanuel Sithole
Immigrants shelter at the Chatsworth football grounds south of Durban. Photograph: Rajesh Jantilal/AFP/Getty Images

EFF leader Julius Malema said in most cases Xenophobic attacks are spontaneous. The Desmond + Leah Tutu Legacy Foundation said this week; “The fabric of the nation is splitting at the seams; its precious nucleus – our moral core – is being ruptured.”

A recent murder of Mozambican Emmanuel Sithole has sparked nationwide reaction. Photographs of Sithole being attacked while pleading for his life were published in The Sunday Times. It’s understood the Mozambican was selling cigarettes on the side of a road when he was confronted by four men.  An argument ensued when the group took the goods without paying. Authorities on Sunday offered a reward of up to R100,000 for information related to his murder.

President Jacob Zuma has called together all stakeholders + leaders in government, to get together on Wednesday and discuss the Xenophobic violence in the country.

“Terrible picture… I am sure even people who live in very rough townships or areas have never seen such a scene generally,” Zuma told reporters at a briefing at Luthuli House in Johannesburg. “And I was sitting and I was saying to myself: What are we telling the world about ourselves?” Zuma said.

 Emmanuel Sithole Emmanuel Sithole Emmanuel Sithole Emmanuel Sithole

Social Media is using the hashtag #NoToXenophobia to share opinion about these attacks + stand together against Xenophobia. There is a silent vigil planned for tonight (21 April) at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg from 7-9pm.

What The Conversation Looks Like On Twitter

What Zuma Has To Say

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