PRETORIA, April 19 — Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has reiterated that he never made a call for anybody to attack another person.
This comes as some have laid the blame for the recent xenophobic attacks at his door, following a controversial statement he made at Phongola three weeks ago.
Soon after making his comments xenophobic attacks erupted in KwaZulu-Natal. At least five people have been reported dead and hundreds displaced.
Speaking at the installation of Inkosi Bhekithemba Myeni at Jozini, northern KwaZulu-Natal, on Saturday, the King says he was grossly misquoted and his words misinterpreted.
He says he was encouraging people to fight poverty and attack the soil with vigour to ensure they produce food.
Zwelithini says he was calling on South Africans to make sure the land is not under-utilised. Hence he encouraged them to take up their ploughs and metaphorically fight the soil.
The Zulu king says he has never instructed anyone to fight foreign nationals. He says people must embrace each other regardless of their nationality.
The Zulu King called on Zulu warriors and community members to attend the Imbizo called for Monday in Durban, where he is expected to further address the issue of xenophobia.
Zwelithini called on people to become ambassadors of peace, adding that Africans are known as generous people who accept and assist the poor and foreigners in their countries.
However Democratic Alliance leader (DA), Helen Zille says Zwelithini must take responsibility for his words.
“When a person in authority like that starts making xenophobic statements, he has to take full responsibility for their consequences,” says Zille.
On related matters, police reinforcements are pouring into violence-ridden areas fuelled by xenophobia. This as looting and attacks continued throughout Gauteng.
On Friday night several shops were looted in Johannesburg, Alexandra and Tembisa. There were also threats of attacks in Soweto.
Many shop owners have been displaced and 50 people have been arrested. The attacks are both malicious and premeditated. The owners fled for their own safety.
“I lost everything and my brother[s] also lost everything [but fortunately] they got [their] identity documents [and] passports and they got the clothes,” explains one foreign shop owner.
“Actually I’m scared to be back at that shop,” adds another shop keeper.
Several shops have now been closed and some have employed heavy security.
Foreign shop owner Moses Banda says, “Most people said they would come [to attack us]. When they are passing with taxis they say ‘yes sizobuya sizobuya’. So we still afraid – we don’t know what will happen [to us].”
It’s another dark day in the country’s proud history as condemnation from both local and international communities streams in.
Residents have blamed criminal elements for the attacks.
“This abuse against foreign nationals is wrong they were supposed to talk with them and ask them to leave instead of taking their belongings. These people [foreign shop owners] help us a lot we are able to buy from them. They did no harm to us – this is painful,” says one of the concerned citizens.
Police have been deployed to stricken areas. The violence has left hundreds displaced and they’ve sought refuge at temporary shelters on the East Rand.
Meanwhile, tensions also remain high in Cala in the Eastern Cape. Foreign nationals there have not returned to their shops following the murder of a young South Africa woman.
A Zimbabwean was arrested for the crime. “We fear for our lives. We left our countries because of war and thought South Africa was safe.”
“We want the communities here to be educated that not all foreigners come from one country so they have nothing to do with the incident.”