By Juliet Ebirim
Julius Malema, leader of one of South Africa’s leading political parties, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has condemned recent xenophobic attacks in the country. He called for unity while speaking at his party’s Western Cape Manifesto launch in Capetown last weekend.
He dismissed claims that foreigners were taking South Africans’ jobs. “Stop your self hatred. Stop attacking our brothers and sisters from Africa. We are one… Even if we expel them tomorrow, you will still not get a job. There are no jobs in South Africa because the whites have refused to invest money in South Africa. They’ve got too many savings in the bank. They’ve got trillions in the bank. They’ve refused to take them out and build industries. There is no Nigerian who’s got an industry and hired Nigerians only. There is no Zimbabwean who’s got a farm who hired Zimbabweans. It is your white people who hired Zimbabweans and pay them low, so that you can fight among yourselves as Africans. See them for what they are.” he said.
Incidents have been reported in provinces of Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal recently. Malema said South Africa is a country for all and called for an end to xenophobic violence.
“They are causing division among Africans. Don’t glorify these borders saying there is Nigeria, Zimbabwe etc. These borders were never here, they were imposed on us by the whites who wanted to divide Africa and do what they want in this continent. I’m ashamed today to call myself a South-African. You are beating blacks, slaughtering Africans… I’ve never seen you doing that to a Chinese, Indian or a white person who doesn’t have papers. But because white people taught you to hate yourselves, once they say it’s an African, you kill all the Africans. Stop that nonsense. It ends today. We must unite as Africans.”
His call was on the heels of an outright condemnation of the attacks by President Cyril Ramaphosa late last week. In addressing a meeting, the president said it was unacceptable that other nationals will be targeted in a country as South Africa.
He traced the impact that all Africans had in standing up with South Africa during apartheid and stressed that the wider society had always stood up against xenophobia and would continue to do so, ‘this is not us,’ he said.
According to reports, attacks on foreigners started after midnight on Sunday. “They began at Kenville Informal Settlement and spread to Sea Cow Lake and Burnwood. Locals were allegedly angry that foreigners were taking their jobs,” the report said.
The president during his condemnation also spoke about the fact that most Africans living in the country were legal residents who respected the laws and people of South Africa.
In years past, African nationals have been targeted and attacked most of them to death. Their businesses have been looted and properties burnt down in some instances.
Reports reveal that no fewer than 116 Nigerians have been sent to their early graves in the country through extra-judicial means in the last three years.
More recently in January 2017, two Nigerians were killed in Rustenburg and Durban in an attack on some Nigerians in South Africa.
On January 20, Nigerian community in South Africa said that a mob destroyed four shops and several houses belonging to their members at Krugersdorp, near Joha. In the same vein on January 21 two Nigerians including 27-year-old Ebuka Okori, were killed in that country. Another two Nigerians were viciously killed within 48 hours, barely a month after President Jacob Zuma was honoured by the Imo Government in 2017.
On October 11, 2017, Jelili Omoyele, a 35-year-old cellular phone technician, was allegedly shot dead in Johannesburg while Olamilekan Badmus, a 25-year-old from Ogun, was also killed at Vaal Vreneging, near Johannesburg.