There’s a blame game going on between Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba and Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba.
Mashaba is accused of being the spark of the recent violent attacks on foreign nationals, of being naïve and reckless, or simply Afrophobic, and failing to understand how his comments could further lead to more burning and looting.
On Monday, Mashaba again said the country ‘can’t be a jungle’ without rule of law. He essentially laid the blame for the attacks on Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba and the African National Congress for paying lip service to the eradication of xenophobia.
He explained that the national government’s failure to mitigate crime, unemployment, inequality and, especially, border control paved way for the recurring attacks.
The Joburg mayor also slammed Minister Gigaba for repeatedly ditching his follow-up letters aimed at finding solutions to the growing attacks.
He said: “The minister’s decision to politicize the matter, rather than work co-operatively for the benefit of South Africans and foreign nationals alike, is disappointing and a betrayal of the minister’s office.
This country requires it to have the rule of law. Our communities out there are crying for help and for anybody to blame me for that is unfortunate. I don’t think anybody can blame me for asking for the rule of law.”
In response, Gigaba’s spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete upbraided mayor Mashaba for the comments; adding that the mayor was trying to deflect attention away from his Afrophobic comments.
Tshwete stressed that it is not Mashaba’s duty to roam the streets, inspecting immigrants’ document, as he recently did, but rather the duty of police officers and certain Home Affairs officials.
“Political principals don’t run around chasing undocumented migrants. He’s trying to pivot and make this about Minister Gigaba.
He’s using the issue of migrants as a populist PR campaign. Mashaba has never had a serious approach to immigration. He’s always had a populist approach to it. When that approach brings him headaches he wants to pivot and [blame] Minister Gigaba,” Tshwete said.
Since the recent xenophobic violence broke out, minister Gigaba has tried to take the middle ground – although he has been heavily criticised for not taking a strong enough stance against xenophobia. But he has continuously warned politicians to refrain from making statements that could fan the flames of xenophobic attacks in the country.
In early February, attacks against foreigners started once again. This time it started in Rosettenville, Johannesburg, and spread to parts of Tshwane.
Last week, Rosettenville residents torched foreign owned properties they believed were drug dens and brothels, while foreign-owned shops in Atteridgeville in Pretoria West were also looted.
Jeppestown, a town in Johannesburg is said to have been looted on Sunday evening and Monday. Residents of the town reportedly demonstrated against foreigners who own car workshops and spaza shops in the area, accusing foreigners of committing crimes such as drug dealing and prostitution.
Police’s Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said one person has been arrested and the suspect faces possible charges of malicious damage to property.
In April 2015, several suspects were arrested during an overnight raid at the Wolhunter Men’s Hostel in Jeppestown, following a spate of attacks on foreign nationals.
No doubt, the consequences of xenophobia mean foreigners will lose their businesses, and could even lose their lives. Hence, the need for urgent restriction and containment.