African Press Association

Joburg mayor faces protests over ‘xenophobic’ rhetoric

Mozambican national being stabbed in Joburg as a result of xenophobic violence

Mozambican national being stabbed in Joburg as a result of xenophobic violence

JOHANNESBURG – FOREIGN nationals living in Johannesburg will later this month embark on demonstrations against city mayor, Herman Mashaba, for alleged sentiments feared to spark xenophobic violence.

The mayor, who assumed office in August on Democratic Alliance (DA) ticket, has incurred the wrath of foreign nationals after recently alleging illegal immigrants committed the majority crimes in Johannesburg.

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba

The umbrella body representing foreign nationals, African Diaspora Forum (ADF), said they would embark on demonstrations on December 19 to denounce the mayor’s “xenophobic” utterances.

ADF Chairman, Marc Gbaffou, said in a statement the initially planned hand over of memorandum at Mashaba’s office on Friday, 9th December did not get clearance from the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department.

“The application needs seven days for approval. Since Mayor Mashaba is seeing everything concerning migrants and migration as illegal, we wouldn’t want to organise an ‘illegal gathering’,” said Gbaffou.

“We wanted to send only 14 people (to Mashaba) to hand over the memorandum to avoid the permission as by law but many civil society organisations, community leaders, South African citizens have shown interest to be part of this historic gathering,” said Gbaffou.

Mashaba’s sentiments have evoked memories of the xenophobic violence of 2008 when some 62 foreign nationals were killed and over 200 000 others displaced around the country.

In 2015, a similar outbreak of violence left a number of foreign national dead, while hordes were injured with their property worth millions of Rands looted following alleged xenophobic rhetoric by controversial Zulu King, Goodwill Zwelithini.

Early this week, Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, denounced utterances by Mashaba as “unfortunate”, before requesting a meeting with the Johannesburg mayor.

“All of us have the responsibility to act in a manner that does not incite any hatred towards other fellow human beings irrespective of where they come from. I will seek a meeting with the Mayor precisely to brief him on a number of interventions that government has implemented in this regard,” said Gigaba.

However, this week, Mashaba, reiterated his views in a diplomatic manner following local international condemnation.

“I stand by what I said that people who are in our city illegally – whether you are South African or you’re someone from outside.”

Johannesburg, the economic hub, is home to millions of foreign nationals that have fled economic and political problems in their countries and sought refuge in South Africa.

– CAJ News