The Ahmed Kathrada Foundation has called for a boycott of the march against foreign nationals planned for Friday by the Mamelodi Concerned Residents, who are protesting against the proliferation of brothels and drug dens they blame on immigrants.
The Mamelodi Residents trust is also protesting against the lack of jobs which they allege have been taken up by foreign nationals, especially in supermarkets and restaurants. They plan to march to the Home Affairs offices later on Friday.
Warning against a resurgence of xenophobic violence, the foundation said: “Lawyers for Human Rights has called for a boycott of the march. We echo this call and reiterate that leaders from all sectors of society must do whatever is possible to quell the outpouring of xenophobic sentiment”.
Two weeks ago residents of Rosettenville set alight houses they suspected were owned by foreign nationals whom they accused of operating brothels and drug dens. A week later similar violence occurred in Pretoria North, where houses were torched.
In Tshwane shops owned by foreign nationals were reportedly looted in Mamelodi and Atteridgeville.
The foundation said it was concerned about the attacks that have occurred in the Tshwane and Johannesburg South regions, as well as the overt expressions of xenophobic sentiment.
Neeshan Balton, the director for the foundation, said it was “deeply worrying” that in democratic South Africa, a march against foreigners was being organised.
“Lawyers for Human Rights has called for a boycott of the march. We echo this call and reiterate that leaders from all sectors of society must do whatever is possible to quell the outpouring of xenophobic sentiment,” said Balton.
“Furthermore, government must employ all efforts to stem violence, including heightening police presence in xenophobia hotspots.”
Balton said South Africans should be championing #NoToXenophobia campaigns, rather than leaving it up to foreign nationals to take up the cause.
“It is the least that individuals can do to help ensure that progressive ideals remain mainstream in a bid to counter the xenophobic narrative.”
The foundation also called on leaders from all sectors of society to publicly condemn the recent xenophobic incidents and rally their constituencies against anti-foreigner sentiment.