Stop South Africa’s Pogroms!

Rampaging mobs of youths in South Africa turning downtown Joburg into a wasteland killing foreigners — refugees from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi who have sought new lives in South Africa — are truly appalling. The country even saw its first post-apartheid politically inspired “necklace” killing on Sunday. Nelson Mandela and Jacob Zuma both condemned the xenophobic violence; President Mbeki announced that he would create a panel to investigate.

Of course the violence is symptomatic of the fact that so many in South Africa have so little, but that does not excuse — or even really explain it. I turned to my old friend Ray Hartley, political editor at the Sunday Times, for some sense and decency. Here’s what he wrote on his blog:

What is taking place in South Africa is nothing short of a major security crisis.

It’s roots lie in the reality that there are many South Africans who, 14 years into democracy, are yet to improve their lives.

All around them they see others getting ahead. Foreigners, unprotected by South Africa’s grandiose labour laws, take illegal work at exploitative salaries.
Then they establish a life on the margins, perhaps renting a house, perhaps buying an old car, perhaps sending their kids to a local school.

Because South Africa, with the notable exception of the very progressive 1994 granting of citizenship to aliens from the SADC ahead of the election, has failed to formalise the presence of foreigners, they have continued this existence on the vulnerable margins.

What is needed now is a massive security response to protect the lives and property of the innocent.

And we need to move fast to legalise and integrate our brothers and sisters from this region into our society.

They should be given a proper place in the South African sun and we should be welcoming their skills and their desire to get ahead.

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9 Responses to Stop South Africa’s Pogroms!

  1. Carducci says:

    As evidenced by the brain drain that has hit South Africa over the last few years, and the number of South Africans living in Europe it’s a sad fact that many South Africans themselves felt threatened by a sort of “Xenophobia” when they lived in their own country and decided to leave.

  2. gracie_fr says:

    None of the Zimbabweans want to stay in South Africa, so it is really a mistake to qualify them as illegal alien squatters. Moreover many of them are skilled middle class teachers, lawyers and doctors or other professionals who have more job opportunities than South Africans in from the countryside looking for work and who end up hawking identical cell phones to the guy two blocks down on the Hillborrow pavement. Part of the problem has been Thabo Mbeki’s failure to address the crisis in Zimbabwe and the Zimbabweans who have fled the country fearing for their lives the same way opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai did. He was in Botswana and come to Johannesburg instead of returning home when it was learned that a hit squad had him in their cross hairs. People like Bishop Paul Verryn of the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg should be given all the assistance they deserve and a little media attention wouldn’t hurt either. The Bishop believes his church’s mission is one of reaching out and helping those who would help themselves…

  3. Steven Solomon says:

    It isn’t only foreigners who are being targeted here. Shangaans, Pedi,and others are being attacked and told to leave the cities. Thousands of refugees gather today outside police stations all over Gauteng, their only possessions a blanket. The police are unable to keep up with the current crime situation….what chance or hope do these people have? It is estimated that 3 million Zimbabwean refugees are living illegally in South Africa. That is a third of their entire population! Our President asks ‘who’ is responsible for poverty and violence, not ‘what’. Mr President the ‘who’ is you. Quiet diplomacy is a failure. People are dying while you have tea with Mussolini.
    Harking back to pre-election violence in ’94, a ‘third force’ is being blamed again. There is no third force, we South Africans know that the ANC is responsible. Diversion, subterfuge, self-enrichment, inaction and xenophobia are the tactics that have been used since 1992.
    It is clear that the ANC has lost touch with people of South Africa. It’s tenure as a grassroots organisation is over.

    What is happening today in our beautiful country is not new.
    JZ maintains that the ANC has a ‘God given right’ to rule forever.
    Scary stuff indeed.
    Strains of Amin, Mabuto, Mugabe perhaps?
    Whats next? Blame the Zionists, blame the Muslims, blame the whites?
    Strains of Hitler….we have poverty….kill them all. How many deaths will it take before our lame-duck government gets off it’s ass?

    (watch this space for upcoming food riots)

    Yeats springs to mind:
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

  4. james says:

    the thing with all of these kinds of pogroms/riots, particularly w/ these kind of sustained campaigns….they’re all organized at some level, sometimes w/ the active involvement or sympathy of some politicos. The (catholic) bishop of Johannesburg (if I remember correctly) has so far been the only one to suggest that there’s been some kind of organization, and the Reuters article quoting him speculated that it was a Zulu opposition party that was “behind this,” but didn’t give any more substace to their speculation other than pointing out that the pogroms happen in places w/ a cert. amt. of support for that party.

    Who are South Africa’s Tom Tancredo’s?

  5. Its a shame. For centuries African people suffered heavily from suppression. After a long fight for freedom they got what they asked.
    And now its falling back in the “bad” old way of tribes fighting against each other.

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