A Khulumani associate and friend, Mr Bonginkosi Ntusi, Director of the Africa Care Foundation, lives in Umlazi township in Durban and has been keeping Khulumani aware of how the xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals have been playing out over recent days. Mr Ntusi has been trying to ensure that the school-going children of foreign national, constituting in most instances no more than 10% of the school population at most public schools in South Africa, at the minimum have something in their stomachs each day.
Following the intensification of yesterday’s attacks that moved into the Durban city centre, Mr Ntusi notified us that his greatest fear is his concern about how the attacks may intensify under cover of darkness in a city in which those responsible for providing protection are not willing to offer these services to foreign nationals after dark. Mr Ntusi raised the alarm on what might happen as police retreat and foreign nationals are left to their own devices to try to protect themselves from apparently systematically planned and implemented violent attacks on their lives and livelihoods, with the seeming silent approval of authorities.
Mr Ntusi took responsibility for engaging a Senior Police Commissioner in Durban yesterday afternoon (April 14) to plead for the police to maintain a strong presence overnight to protect foreign nationals whose lives are under threat from South Africans. He reported that the SAPS did not agree to provide this essential protection at night.
A further concern he highlighted was the fact that Umlazi township was in darkness last night because of load-shedding and that the lives of foreign nationals would be at even greater risk, as even those South Africans who have been trying to provide them with protection and support, were afraid to be outside their homes in the darkness. Some of them have themselves been victims of the xenophobic rage of some South Africans for giving assistance to foreign nationals.
Yesterday the ambassadors of the countries of origin of most of the threatened foreign nationals were in Durban for meetings with South African government officials. The ambassadors appealed to these officials to assist them to provide the means for all those foreign nationals who wished to return home, to be enabled to do so, in the context of the loss by many of these foreign nationals of their own hard-won assets at the hands of xenophobic South Africans. The South African government officials yesterday rejected these requests for assistance.
Subsequently, Mr Ntusi engaged officials from the Department of Social Development to request that they provide urgent food relief to displaced foreign nationals. The official to whom he spoke allegedly replied, "Let them starve so that they go home."
Khulumani agrees with Mr Ahmed Kathradain his depiction of this demonstration of inhumanity, that xenophobia is another version of racism, based, we believe, on a largely still untransformed Apartheid legacy of self-hate.
Khulumani calls on all concerned citizens to support the efforts of local organisations in Durban to provide means for them to continue to try to provide food and other urgent needs through making contributions to the bank account of the Africa Care Foundation with the Reference: Foreign Nationals.
The bank details are:
- Account Name: Africa Care Foundation
- Bank: ABSA
- Type of Account: Business Savings
- Account number: 926 554 7757
- Reference: Foreign Nationals