Rights body gives king slap on wrist
ALTHOUGH Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini’s utterances were harmful to foreign nationals, he did not call for violence against migrants, an investigation by the SA Human Rights Commission has found.
Commission chairman Lawrence Mushwana told a media briefing yesterday Zwelithini’s utterances, made during a speech he delivered at a meeting on moral regeneration in Pongola, KwaZuluNatal in March last year, did not actively incite violence, but engendered discrimination.
“From an analysis of the utterances of the respondent in the transcribed version of his speech, the commission is of the view that at no point did the respondent issue a call to take arms or any call for violent attack against migrants,” Mushwana told reporters in Johannesburg.
“His utterances fall short of incitement to violence as he did not actively encourage or pressurise (sic) the audience into committing violent acts against migrants.”
He said, however, that Zwelithini’s statement created an environment in which foreign nationals could be discriminated against by society.
“Telling people that they’re criminals and that they’re here to steal the country’s wealth is harmful. Such psychological conditioning could ultimately lead to acts of discrimination and fuel a climate which leads to violence against migrants.”
In his speech, Zwelithini accused foreign nationals of making “streets dirty”. He also called on them to pack their bags and go home.
Mushwana said a Zulu language expert who assisted the commission in its probe, concluded that these statements did not incite violence.
“In the history of the Zulu nation, the king can express his views in a blunt and sometimes crude way without meaning to offend a particular individual.
“In regard to the request for ‘foreign nationals and their luggage to be sent back home’, the expert found that the reference to luggage is made on the assumption that hawkers are in South Africa illegally,” said Mushwana.
The complaint against the king was lodged by the African Diaspora Forum, Lawyers for Human Rights and other individuals.
They charged Zwelithini’s statement incited violence against foreign nationals and had resulted in an eruption of xenophobic attacks that began in KwaZulu-Natal last year.
Seven people were killed and thousands displaced as violence against foreign nationals swept through large parts of the country.
Mushwana said Zwelithini had, during his speech, also criticised locals for inflicting violence on foreign nationals.
“Unfortunately, this aspect of the king’s speech was not covered in the media reports.”
Zwelithini had argued he was quoted out of context through “inaccurate reporting”, and the media did not understand the Zulu language. He asked the commission to investigate the media for its role in “misusing and abusing” the speech he delivered.
Mushwana said although Zwelithini did not point to specific media reports, the commission was not the best placed institution to investigate his complaint. – ANA
King Goodwill Zwelithini