S. Africa re­ports 7 deaths in xeno­pho­bic vi­o­lence

Zulu King de­nies trig­ger­ing South Africa racial ten­sions

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY CHRISTO­PHER TORCHIA

South Africa’s pres­i­dent has post­poned a key cer­e­mony af­ter the deaths of seven peo­ple in re­cent at­tacks on im­mi­grants in South Africa, his of­fice said Mon­day.

The cer­e­mony sched­uled for next week be­stows the coun­try’s high­est of­fi­cial honor on South Africans and for­eign­ers who have con­trib­uted to South Africa, the of­fice of Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma said. The event will be post­poned so South Africa can mourn the vic­tims of anti-im­mi­grant vi­o­lence, in­clud­ing three South Africans and four for­eign­ers, it said.

The an­nual cer­e­mony was to be on April 27, a hol­i­day com­mem­o­rat­ing the first all-race elec­tions in 1994 that ended apartheid.

The anti-im­mi­grant vi­o­lence has been in spe­cific ar­eas of Dur­ban and Jo­han­nes­burg. Six peo­ple died in at­tacks since the end of March in the coastal city of Dur­ban, where loot­ers broke into shops owned by im­mi­grants, po­lice said. The vi­o­lence has since sub­sided.

South Africa’s Sun­day Times news­pa­per pub­lished pho­to­graphs of a fa­tal attack on a Mozam­bi­can man in Jo­han­nes­burg’s Alexan­dra town­ship this past week­end. Au­thor­i­ties ar­rested three sus­pects in the killing and are search­ing for a fourth sus­pect, the South African po­lice force said on its Twit­ter ac­count.

Re­li­gious groups, trade unions and other or­ga­ni­za­tions plan a march on Thurs­day in Jo­han­nes­burg to condemn the anti-im­mi­grant vi­o­lence.

The at­tacks stem from a per­cep­tion that im­mi­grants, many from other African coun­tries, are tak­ing jobs at the ex­pense of South Africans in a coun­try with high un­em­ploy­ment. Many peo­ple from other coun­tries have en­tered South Africa il­le­gally, though the gov­ern­ment has said a large num­ber are work­ing legally and con­tribut­ing to eco­nomic devel­op­ment.

South African of­fi­cials have pro­vided food and shel­ter to more than 1,000 peo­ple who fled their homes and po­lice have ar­rested more than 300 peo­ple, the gov­ern- ment said. Char­i­ties have helped other fear­ful im­mi­grants seek­ing refuge and coun­tries in­clud­ing Malawi and Zim­babwe are ar­rang- ing for the re­turn of some of their cit­i­zens.

The vi­o­lence re­calls sim­i­lar un­rest in South Africa in 2008 in which 60 peo­ple died. In Jan­uary this year, four peo­ple died dur­ing loot­ing of for­eign-owned shops in ar­eas of Jo­han­nes­burg.

Zulu King Good­will Zwelithini on Mon­day de­nied whip­ping up xeno­pho­bic ha­tred in South Africa af­ter he was ac­cused of trig­ger­ing vi­o­lence that has left at least seven peo­ple dead and forced thou­sands from their homes.

Zwelithini last month made an an­gry speech blam­ing im­mi­grants for ris­ing crime and say­ing they must leave the coun­try, in an out­burst seen as en­cour­ag­ing the spate of at­tacks on Zim­bab­weans, So­ma­lians, Malaw­ians and other for­eign­ers.

But he told a tribal gath­er­ing of sev­eral thou­sand Zu­lus in the port city of Dur­ban that he had been mis­rep­re­sented.

"This vi­o­lence di­rected at our broth­ers and sis­ter is shame­ful," he said.

"My speech ... was di­rected at the po­lice, call­ing for stricter law en­force­ment, but that was never re­ported.

"The public was in­stead given an­other side of my speech, which had been twisted and mis­rep­re­sented."

South African au­thor­i­ties have strug­gled to con­tain mobs in the eco­nomic cap­i­tal Jo­han­nes­burg and Dur­ban hunt­ing down for­eign­ers.

At least seven peo­ple were killed last week and 307 sus­pects ar­rested in the worst eth­nic vi­o­lence since 2008, when 62 peo­ple were killed mainly in Jo­han­nes­burg's town­ships.

AP

A man re­places a bro­ken win­dow at a tav­ern in Philippi town­ship, on the out­skirts of Cape Town, South Africa on Mon­day, April 20, next to a ban­ner that reads: “No Xeno­pho­bia, No Afro­pho­bia, Africans 4 Africans,” to show the tav­ern wel­comes peo­ple from across the African con­ti­nent.

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