Conflict & Justice

Violence against foreign migrants

(When we talked to you a few weeks ago you were greeting at that time a steady flow of refugees from Zimbabwe fleeing the economic collapse and political instability there. now you're housing even more people at your church but these people are not new to the country. why are they the subject of attacks?) I think there's been a build up. The foreign nationals have found themselves at the end of a prejudiced stick. For instance reports in the media talk about illegal aliens and if you keep calling people illegal and then connect them with the crime in South Africa which has been like a pandemic. Part of this is also carefully orchestrated. (By whom?) That's a difficult question, bits and pieces from all over the place�some people from the authority, some from the government. But it's far too specific and orchestrated. I had someone who said he had witnessed people getting paid money to do this stuff. (To what end? And why would it even begin?) I wouldn't say it's government, but political parties and I think the motives are different. We're in a state of transition at the moment so the stakes are higher. This is riding on the soft underbelly of the huge discrepancy between the rich and poor in this country. (How many people are at your church right now?) It's gone from 1,300 to 2,000. (Why would your church be the subject of attack?) There were three skirmishes on Sunday morning, one with people brandishing weapons and then another with a mob coming. I think the attack on the church is obvious, it does house foreign nationals. (Does that mean when you're at the church, you act as a greeter, do you also act as a security guard?) Yes I do. People are panic stricken because some of the violence has been horrendous: burning of people and bystanders looking and laughing at the victims. So much of this harkens back to the 70s and 80s and 90s and the practice of destroying enemies. The sadness is we're dealing with already vulnerable people coming into this country and then further recreating torture in their lives. (Is there anything you can do to keep these people protected?) There are several things: we're pleading with the government to declare a state of emergency or bring the troops out and give a visible sense of security. The second thing is to meet with people and let them vent about their anger and fear and vulnerabilities, give them their dignity.

Player utilities

(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

Comments