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Xenophobic attacks worrying the UN

by Luqmaan Rawat
The lack of action from the government towards xenophobic attacks have the UN concerned

South Africa – The United Nations (UN) have written to Naledi Pandor, International Relations Minister, over xenophobic attacks in South Africa. The UN is concerned that South Africa is reneging on its commitments to protect foreigners. They are concerned that xenophobia still persists in the country.

For the UN to write to South Africa shows that it is incredibly worried about the attacks that are taking place. Dr. Vusumuzi Sibanda, Chairperson of the African Diaspora Forum, has welcomed the UN voicing its concerns against xenophobia in South Africa hoping it will force the government to act against it.

“When the United Nations basically gets worried about the xenophobic attacks that are taking place in the country, the sentiment and the fact that is seems not much is being done, it is a very welcomed position. We hope that will spare the South African government to ensure that stronger measures are taken against anyone that seems to incite or try to influence the escalation of xenophobic attacks.”

There are no calls to end xenophobic attacks from Ministers

The xenophobic attacks of the past in South Africa have taken many lives. Every time there is a new attack, Sibanda fears things could escalate. He has so far been disheartened by the stance ministers have taken in regard to these attacks.

“What we are looking at is a situation where we want to see the government, the ministers standing up and condemning the killing of people simply because they are migrants living in South Africa. Instead, you see ministers aligning themselves with these vigilante groups and continuing to say inflammatory statements that fuel the situation rather than deal with the issues. That is a very big problem because people get burnt alive in South Africa. They get massacred and it appears as if it means nothing to the current government. So that is a very huge concern.”

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The government is not bothered by the vigilante groups

The government took a strong stance against those who incited the violence during the July riots. They make ample statements to arrest them and have them face justice. It is then surprising to Sibanda that the vigilante groups who incite violence have not had the same threats raised against them. Instead, they sit at the tables of ministers with nothing happening to them.

“Operation Dudula have been known to be the one that are spearheading these campaigns and attacks on foreigners, but the government is not treating it the way it treated those that incited violence during the looting. The government is aware of this grouping. The government dines with them. Has thousands of meetings and yet nothing is happening to the leaders and the people that convene these meetings and the people that blocked the roads. Ultimately, they end up attacking and burning migrants and foreigners living in South Africa.”

For Sibanda, this shows a “very lackadaisical approach” from the government to actually take care of the problem. The UN is right to be knocking on South Africa’s door to ask them to provide a reason for them not acting.

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The government is participating in xenophobic attacks

It is clear to Sibanda the lack of action from government indicates that they are allowing such to happen. These attacks are not taking place in the shadows. They are happening where all can see it.

“Even a layman would actually see that and say this is very wrong. You can see the government is actively participating in these particular attacks. Especially by covering for them and entertaining the people that continue to do these things. At some stage you realise that ordinary people are the ones that are even standing up. The government is the one that is actually accepting it.”

The UN has given South Africa 30 days to respond to their message. Sibanda is waiting to see whether South Africa will reply in the positive or “duck and dive” again.

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