The Congress of South African Trade Unions vehemently condemns the violence and crime which has erupted in Soweto.
There can be absolutely no excuse for any of the assaults and killings or the looting of foreign-owned shops which have been taking place, regardless of the fact that it was allegedly sparked off by the killing of a 14-year-old boy, and another man, with unlicensed firearms.
It is pure criminality and should be treated as such. The police must take action, but in an even-handed way, treating all people equally. The violence also highlights the scandal of the unregulated proliferation of unlicensed guns.
The problems we face – unemployment, poverty and crime – must never be blamed on people on the basis of their country of origin. These problems are structural, rooted in years of colonialism and apartheid capitalism which kept the majority of South Africans in desperate poverty and denied them any democratic means to improve their plight, not by foreign nationals, who are themselves victims of the same problems of competing for limited resources, in the context of increasingly unregulated trading.
If we see foreigners as scapegoats, we will be on a slippery slope towards the destruction of the unity we have built in the trade unions and community organisations. Human rights are not just for South Africans but for all people, regardless of where they have come from. We must never forget that many of those who risked their lives in our liberation struggle and built our trade unions were migrant workers from all over the world.
Rather than fighting each other, we must unite all the oppressed people in struggle against the people who are really to blame for our problems – unscrupulous employers who exploit desperate foreign workers, and the capitalist system, which condemns thousands of working-class people, regardless of where they come from, to a life of unemployment, poverty and hunger.
The federation call on the Alliance and other civil society structures in Gauteng to campaign in the areas affected and do everything possible to stop the violence and bring people together in the common struggle for a better life for all.
Workers of the world unite! An injury to one is an injury to all!
Patrick Craven (National Spokesperson)
Congress of South African Trade Unions
110 Jorissen Cnr Simmonds Streets
Tel: +27 11 339-4911 Direct 010 219-1339
Fax: +27 11 339-6940
Mobile: +27 82 821 7456
Source : Congress of South African Trade Unions