Bold cam­paign against xeno­pho­bia

‘Love your neigh­bour’ mes­sage spread in city

The Herald (South Africa) - - FRONT PAGE - Hen­drick Mphande mphan­deh@ti­soblack­star.co.za

THE mes­sage was sim­ple: “Know your neigh­bour and love them ir­re­spec­tive of their coun­try of ori­gin.” Or­gan­ised by the Eastern Cape Refugees Cen­tre, the “road­show for peace” fo­cused on Mother­well where a num­ber of African for­eign­ers have been at­tacked in their shops.

Res­i­dents and for­eign na­tion­als joined hands against xeno­pho­bia at the week­end with a bold door-todoor cam­paign.

On Satur­day, the in­te­grated group spoke out against the at­tacks and de­plored gen­eral law­less­ness which they said would not be tol­er­ated.

About 200 peo­ple em­barked on the door-to-door cam­paign, spread­ing the mes­sage un­der the aus­pices of the Eastern Cape Refugees Cen­tre (ECRC) and other stake­hold­ers.

ECRC direc­tor Sweet­ness Pullen said they had tar­geted the nine wards in Mother­well to de­liver the mes­sage of love and peace.

“This is just the be­gin­ning of the cam­paign to erad­i­cate xeno­pho­bia and crime in gen­eral,” she said.

“For a very long time, our com­mu­ni­ties have suf­fered silent wars and killings. To­day we have a cam­paign and the mes­sage is know and love your neigh­bour.”

Pullen said 30 peace-builders had al­ready been trained in Mother­well and Gra­ham­stown.

Their role, she said, was to mit­i­gate against vi­o­lence and pro­mote con­flict man­age­ment.

“Usu­ally, the at­tack and loot­ing of for­eign-owned shops is sparked by ser­vice de­liv­ery protests. The role of peace-builders comes in handy in con­flict man­age­ment in such cases,” Pullen said.

The group kicked off their cam­paign on Satur­day from Wells Es­tate and drove in con­voy in and around the Mother­well area.

They made ran­dom stops at taxi ranks, com­mu­nity halls and out­side houses and, with the use of a mega­phone mounted on the back of a bakkie, called on passers-by to love and ac­cept African for­eign­ers liv­ing in their com­mu­ni­ties.

“Know your neigh­bour. They are Africans, just like you. Love your neigh­bour,” the an­nouncer said.

Somali na­tional Said Ahmed, who took part in the cam­paign, ap­plauded the ini­tia­tive.

“This is a crime-aware­ness ini­tia­tive where lo­cals and for­eign na­tion­als high­light the scourge of vi­o­lence. Let us work to­gether in peace and har­mony. We all ab­hor crime,” he said.

Speak­ing on be­half of lo­cals, Zoliswa Jakavula, of Ward 56, said: “With open arms, we wel­come our broth­ers and sis­ters in our com­mu­nity. They are free to do busi­ness and stay with us. As a com­mu­nity we must stand up for them each time they get at­tacked.

“I have peace in my heart. We love our friends,” Jakavula said.

Pullen is also a con­sul­tant for Free­dom House, an in­de­pen­dent watch­dog or­gan­i­sa­tion ded­i­cated to the ex­pan­sion of free­dom and democ­racy around the world.

The body also anal­y­ses the chal­lenges to free­dom, ad­vo­cates for greater po­lit­i­cal rights and civil lib­er­ties, sup­ports front­line ac­tivists in de­fend­ing hu­man rights and pro­motes demo­cratic change.

Pic­ture: FREDLIN ADRIAAN

WARM AP­PROACH: Fundiswa Mami, left, 45, and Somali refugee Da­haba Abdi, 55, em­brace

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