S. Africans protest mi­grant in­flux

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL -

PRE­TO­RIA, South Africa — Po­lice fired stun grenades, rub­ber bul­lets and water can­non Fri­day as the lat­est wave of anti-immigrant protests broke out in South Africa’s cap­i­tal, while Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma con­demned the vi­o­lence but said his coun­try’s mi­grant bur­den is big­ger than Europe’s.

A pe­ti­tion the pro­test­ers handed to the for­eign min­istry, seen by The As­so­ci­ated Press, sug­gested that the gov­ern­ment teach for­eign­ers to speak prop­erly. “They are ar­ro­gant and they don’t know how to talk to peo­ple es­pe­cially Nige­ri­ans,” it said.

Re­sent­ment against for­eign­ers has some­times turned deadly in South Africa amid ac­cu­sa­tions that they take jobs from lo­cals in a coun­try where un­em­ploy­ment is above 25 per­cent. Oth­ers are blamed for drug-deal­ing and other crimes. In 2015, anti-immigrant ri­ots in and around the city of Dur­ban killed at least six peo­ple. In 2008, sim­i­lar vi­o­lence killed about 60 peo­ple.

Po­lice on Fri­day tried to keep pro­test­ers apart from for­eign­ers who gath­ered to ex­press alarm about re­cent at­tacks. Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Kho­motso Pha­lane said 136 peo­ple had been ar­rested in the past 24 hours.

The Nel­son Man­dela Foun­da­tion in a state­ment crit­i­cized au­thor­i­ties for “giv­ing per­mis­sion for a march of ha­tred.”

The pe­ri­odic back­lash against for­eign­ers has hurt the tol­er­ant im­age South Africa has tried to present to the world af­ter the long strug­gle to stop the harsh dis­crim­i­na­tion of white mi­nor­ity rule, which ended in 1994.

South Africans should not blame all crime on non-South Africans, the state­ment from Zuma’s of­fice said. It cited re­cent re­ports of vi­o­lence in Pre­to­ria and hate speech on so­cial me­dia.

“Many cit­i­zens of other coun­tries liv­ing in South Africa are law abid­ing and con­trib­ute to the econ­omy of the coun­try pos­i­tively,” the pres­i­dent said. “It is wrong to bran­dish all non-na­tion­als as drug deal­ers or hu­man traffickers.”

An Amnesty In­ter­na­tional state­ment blamed au­thor­i­ties’ “fail­ure to ad­dress toxic pop­ulist rhetoric that blames and scape­goats refugees and mi­grants.”

Zuma said South Africans are not xeno­pho­bic, and he called on ev­ery­one, cit­i­zens and nonci­t­i­zens, to work to­gether to com­bat the coun­try’s high crime rate.

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