‘Xenophobic Attacks– Foreigners Must Leave Our Land’

Protesters chant slogans during clashes believed to be linked to recent anti-foreigner violence in Reiger Park informal settlement, east of Johannesburg May 20, 2008. South Africa's police and the ruling ANC party intensified efforts on Tuesday to quell deadly violence against foreigners and a government minister said the unrest could damage the key tourism sector. At least 24 people have been killed in over a week of violent attacks on African migrant workers who are accused by many in South Africa's poor townships of stealing jobs and fuelling a wave of violent crime. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko (SOUTH AFRICA)

Foreigners must leave our land, is still the slogan in South Africa despite ongoing mediations to find a solution to the xenophobic attacks in the country.

Yesterday witnessed groups of men, armed with clubs marching down streets of Johanesburg and chanting: “foreigners must go back to where they came from.”.

The incident stirred fresh tensions in South Africa and renewed anxiety elsewhere in the region.

At least 10 people, two of them foreign nationals, have been killed in the violence over the last week, while police said on Thursday that they had arrested more than 420 people.

A report in Daily Trust, said moves by a veteran politician and a Zulu leader during apartheid,  Mangosuthu Buthelez to quell the tensions failed as his speech was disrupted by the crowd.

Mr Buthelezi, was also former leader of South Africa’s opposition Inkatha Freedom Party, who had a massive following during the apartheid era.

He told the crowd he had come as a mediator and said he felt ashamed about the recent violence which he said was tarnishing the name of South Africa across the continent.

But he was heckled throughout and video shared on Twitter shows crowds walking out of the meeting.

READ ALSO: ‘WE’LL NOT LEAVE HERE UNTIL WE’RE PAID OUR N25BN IN FULL’

Recall that Nigeria’s leader, President Muhammadu Buhari had sent an envoy to South Africa to “express Nigeria’s displeasure over the treatment of her citizens” and recalled Nigeria’s High Commissioner to South Africa over the violence.

Mobs began looting foreign-owned shops and torching foreigners’ lorries on Monday.

The xenophobic attacks started after South African lorry drivers staged a nationwide strike to protest against the employment of foreign drivers.

The country has become a magnet for migrants from other parts of Africa because it has one of the continent’s biggest and most developed economies.

But there is also high unemployment in South Africa and some people feel foreigners are taking their jobs.

Also, the Nigeria Union South Africa (NUSA) has urged Nigerians residing in that country to stay away from hot spots where the ongoing violent protest march by the Zulu Hostel dwellers in Johannesburg was taking place.

The Publicity Secretary of the union, Mr Habib Miller, who gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Lagos, said it was necessary to avoid a repeat of what happened last week.

“The Police need to be proactive this time around so that lives and properties of people, especially, foreign nationals will be protected.

“Our mission in Johannesburg has been informed,” Miller said.

The attacks started after South African lorry drivers staged a nationwide strike to protest against the employment of foreign drivers, reports the BBC.

The country has become a magnet for migrants from other parts of Africa because it has one of the continent’s biggest and most developed economies.

But there is also high unemployment in South Africa and some people feel foreigners are taking their jobs.

As the week progressed, people across the continent shared videos on WhatsApp which appeared to show violent attacks on Nigerians.

Some of the videos turned out to be misleading – old, or even from other countries.

-Featured image courtesy of South African History online

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