Foreign nationals who came to seek employment in South Africa are living in fear in KwaZulu-Natal as they are afraid of being attacked by supporters of Operation Dudula, which is expected to hit the province on Sunday.
This comes after threatening social media posts and a voice recording about the massive roll-out of Operation Dudula in KZN made rounds at the weekend.
Operation Dudula, which started in Soweto last year and has since morphed and spread to inner Johannesburg and Hillbrow, apparently aims to remove illegal or undocumented foreign nationals, particularly those setting up shops and engaging in criminal acts.
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In one of the voice recordings, a man said that, as the committee, they are calling upon all people in Durban and KZN to take part in Sunday’s operation.
He said: “On the 27th, it’s going down in Durban and we are removing all foreigners in the city and we [won’t brook] any further delays as a lot of people say they are ready.”
He said the meeting point is the Gugu Dlamini Park at the Workshop, in the Durban CBD. The man further said they will start the day by selecting the marshals to control the masses to avoid incidents of theft and looting.
He said they will be entering every shop and salon owned by foreign nationals and removing their belongings from the building then locking it with their own chains and padlocks
“We are not going to steal and loot anything. Arrangements have been made to communicate a message and our plan of action with the police. We are going to start in Durban central and then move to the townships. This movement would also be calling to areas such as Montclair, Umlazi, KwaMashu, Ntuzuma and other areas. You must alert your employer in advance that the situation will be very bad in Durban come Sunday,” said the man on the voice recording.
On Monday, the secretary-general of the African Solidarity Network (Asonet), Daniel Byamungu Dunia, said they have been made aware of the voice recording. He said they formed a social cohesion group called Civil Society and Church Organisation to coordinate messages and engagement with relevant authorities. Dunia said they have also reported the threatening messages to all law enforcement agencies.
Dunia confirmed that foreign nationals in KZN are living in fear because they do not know when members of Operation Dudula might strike.
He said on Tuesday, the organisation’s standing committee will be meeting with the police to plot a way forward.
“There is a meeting that has been set with the Saps provincial commissioner, Lieutenant-general Nhlanhla Mkhwanazi to discuss this Operation Dudula and to get a plan for the police to ensure people’s safety,” he said.
Dunia said: “Our members on the ground are very [scared] and they are living in fear now because they have also heard the voice recording. Since the day the poster about Sunday’s launch started circulating on social media and the incident in Pietermaritzburg, people have been very scared.”
Last week, one person was killed while three were seriously injured during a clash between foreign nationals and Pietermaritzburg taxi drivers on Church Street. This resulted in the taxi drivers chasing away the foreign nationals from their place of business, stating that they were “reclaiming the economy”.
Dunia said their last hope for safety are police, as they pray that come Sunday, they will be protected.
He said after the meeting with Mkhwanazi, they will come out with one voice that will be communicated among all members in the province.
“We also don’t want to create panic as well and that is why we have to follow all channels to make sure that we are giving the proper message,” he said.
RAMAPHOSA SPEAKS OUT
Speaking during the Human Rights Day commemoration in North West on Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said: “As a country founded on tolerance, respect for diversity and non-discrimination, we must never allow ourselves to turn against people who come from beyond our borders.”
He said the country should not allow itself to be at war with those who come from other countries, adding that is “un-South African”.
Ramaphosa said South Africa always had people from other countries and they all participated in building industries like mining.
“Of course now we are facing challenges of unemployment, but those challenges should never mean that we should go and wage war against those people from other countries. Once we do that, we just immediately promote this spirit of xenophobia and that we hate them and they must go.
Ramaphosa also urged employers in South Africa to refrain from employing undocumented foreign nationals as that creates tension among people.
“What we are saying is that yes, we want people to be properly documented in our country and employers to be very careful and hire people who are properly documented,” said Ramaphosa.
Ramaphosa said those who are setting up organisations like Dudula, are contravening the law. He said the government cannot allow a situation where people will embark on vigilantism to deal with a social problem.
“We must collectively, as South Africans, deal with it, and from the government side, we will do our work. But we also want to say let us work together as it is highly sensitive as this thing can soon turn out into xenophobia and you know how the continent can turn its back on us,” said the president.