South Africa – African Diaspora Forum warns government against “criminalising” foreigners


2017-02-25 11:37

Foreign nationals standing in a line facing the SA group and shouting inaudible slurs. (Mpho Raborife, News24)

Foreign nationals standing in a line facing the SA group and shouting inaudible slurs. (Mpho Raborife, News24)

Johannesburg – The African Diaspora Forum (ADF) called on the government to stop making statements that criminalise people from other African countries amid fears that Friday’s xenophobic attacks in Tshwane could spread to other parts of South Africa.

ADF spokesperson Johnson Adeke told News24 on Saturday that President Jacob Zuma’s comments on Friday that government cannot ignore claims that foreigners might be linked to crime did not help to calm the situation.

“We have been criminalised by government institutions that are supposed to protect us,” he said as ADF field workers helped with an inventory of destroyed properties, and counted how many people have been injured and displaced in attacks in Mamelodi, Atteridgeville and Rosettenville since the violence started two weeks ago.

In a statement on Friday Zuma said: “We cannot close our eyes to the concerns of the communities that most of the crimes, such as drug dealing, prostitution, and human trafficking are allegedly perpetuated by foreign nationals.”

Statements such as these simply single out and stereotype migrants, he said.

Waiting for public apology

The ADF had written to Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba, to Zuma, and other government institutions warning them that trouble was brewing after Mashaba’s statement that he would remove “illegal foreigners” from Johannesburg, but to no avail.

Adeke said that many of the houses torched in Rosettenville, south of Johannesburg, by people who accused the residents of running drug houses and brothels, were not all owned by migrants.

“It is a stereotype. There were drugs in South Africa before Nigerians came here. The man who lost [his] cars in Rosettenville was not dealing in drugs. The drug issues in Manenberg in Cape Town – those are not Nigerians living there,” he said.

On February 11, at least 10 houses were torched in Rosettenville amid claims that they were housing brothels and drug dealers.

That was preceded by people going into houses a week before and carrying out furniture and setting it alight as an apparent warning.

Adeke said the ADF is still waiting for a public apology from Mashaba for his comments, but Mashaba’s spokesperson Tony Taverna-Turisan said the mayor’s comments during his address in the council on his first 100 days as mayor, were misquoted.

136 people arrested

He said he would deal with all criminals, said Taverna-Turisan.

“We cannot accept lawlessness in our city and any criminal, whether a South African national or a foreign national, must be apprehended. To say that we must keep quiet about illegal immigrants is to say we must ignore the rule of law and that is simply unacceptable,” said the mayor’s spokesperson.

READ: Mashaba won’t keep quiet about illegal immigrants – spokesperson

Adeke said the situation had got to a point where migrants are surrounded by mobs who demand their identity documents, and then claim they are fraudulent when they are produced.

Police said they arrested 136 people in confrontations around Atteridgeville, Mamelodi and Marabastad on Friday and managed to restore order again.

A group called the Mamelodi Concerned Residents had planned to march from Marabastad to the Hallmark building in Pretoria to complain about foreigners committing crimes.

Police spokesperson Colonel Vish Naidoo said a group of people from Atteridgeville blocked roads, burnt tyres and threw stones.

Excuse for criminality

They also marched into the CBD without permission and had to be dispersed when there was a confrontation with another group, apparently made up of migrants.

There were angry standoffs that were broken up, with the police firing stun grenades at times.

The Coalition of Civics Against Xenophobia said the violence and looting that accompanied Friday’s events showed that xenophobia is an excuse for criminality.

CCAX spokesperson Mametlwe Sebei also placed the blame on Mashaba.

“His public statements against ‘illegal foreigners’, demanding they ‘leave his city’, played a direct role in inciting the violence and emboldening peripheral groups like the Mamelodi Concerned Residents.

“He has wrecked lives. We demand the resignation of this divisive politician and will be pursuing every [and] all means to hold him accountable.”

The coalition is planning its own march to unite migrants against crime, xenophobia and poverty.

Africa’s Rhinos – us it better to trade horn to save rhinos

Global Geneva

The air buzzed with the sound of an electric saw. Next to me a 2,000kg white rhino slumped on the ground. When the saw fell silent, I was handed a heavy, greyish brown lump of horn. “That’s worth about $40,000 in Vietnam”, I was told. Poached rhino horn can now fetch as much as $65,000 per kg. By weight it is more valuable than gold or cocaine. The high price and massive demand in Vietnam and China have fuelled a poaching epidemic that has swept southern Africa. About 1,300-1,500 rhinos are killed each year for their horns – over 6,000 since 2009.
But I was not holding poached horn and the huge male white rhino next to me was not dead. I had just witnessed the painless dehorning of a rhino on the huge farm of South Africa’s leading private rhino owner, John Hume. The rhino had been darted to sedate it, held down by four strong men, and blindfolded to avoid stress. Then its two horns were cut to within a couple of inches of their base. It took just ten minutes from darting for the rhino to climb back slightly unsteadily to its feet and shamble off into the veldt.

John Hume has 1,446 rhinos on his 8,000ha ranch near Klerksdorp in South Africa. The latest addition was a male calf born there on 28 December 2016. This was the 1,000th rhino bred from animals owned by Hume over a period of 25 years. South Africa’s total population is around 20,600 but it has been hit hard by years of heavy poaching in Kruger National Park, Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park in KwaZulu-Natal and on private reserves and game farms.
Increased security, tougher sentencing of poachers and improved intelligence and the creation of high intensity protection zones in Kruger are working to reduce poaching there and to slightly cut the overall level of poaching in South Africa. In 2014, 1,215 rhinos were killed for their horns in South Africa. This was reduced to 1,175 in 2015 – about 65 per cent of those poached are killed in Kruger.
Kruger’s chief ranger, Nicholus Funda, told me when I met him at the Park that they hoped to keep the number killed in the park below 700, which should lower the national figure to around 1,000 (458 were killed in Kruger between January and late August). No firm figures have been released by the South African Department of the Environment for 2016, but Albi Modise, a spokesperson for the department said on 27 December that the final number would show a reduction on previous years. While the overall figure is likely to be slightly lower for the country as a whole, there are signs that the focus of poaching is shifting because of increased security in Kruger.
When I visited Hluhluwe-Imfolozi in September, the head of rhino security, Cedric Coetzee, told me that they were experiencing a worrying rise in poaching. Incursions by poachers had risen from two a week to two a day in the previous 18 months. On 27 December 2016 Musa Mntambo, a spokesperson for Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, which runs the Park, said that 159 rhino had been killed in the province during the year compared with 97 in 2015. Hluhluwe-Imfolozi had borne the brunt of the increase.
Any minor advance in South Africa is being offset by increased rhino poaching. In Zimbabwe and Namibia, which also hold significant proportions of the 20,378 white rhino and 5,250 black rhino remaining in Africa, according to Save the Rhino and to the South African conservationist John Hanks. The numbers poached in Namibia have risen in recent years, reaching 80 in 2015 having been down at 25 the year before; 2016’s death toll has not been released. Zimbabwe lost 50 rhinos in 2015, double the previous year’s level.
Why is rhino horn so expensive and so much in demand? It has been utilised in Chinese traditional medicine for millennia and is also used to carve cups, libation vessels and other artefacts popular with China’s prosperous elite. But the booming market is in Vietnam among wealthy businessmen. They give horns as gifts to wealthy clients or prospective business partners, and serve it in wine at banquets. Many Vietnamese believe it is a cure for hangovers and cancer – though there is no evidence to support either claim. It is a luxury commodity that reeks of wealth and power. Demand has risen rapidly over the last ten years and shows no sign of abating.
International trade in rhino horn has been banned since 1977, when CITES (The Convention on Trade in Endangered Species) voted to ban all export-import trade in rhino horn to conserve dwindling wild rhino populations in Africa and Asia; South Africa, due to breeding successes, has been allowed by CITES to export live white rhino in certain cericumstances, such as restocking parks elsewhere.. This did not mean that domestic trade was banned in all countries but it did attempt to stop horn being exported from Africa – where rhino numbers were decimated in the 1970s and 1980s. But increasing prosperity in the major markets for horn in the Far East has caused a horrific rise in poaching. This is despite that fact that rhino horn is basically compacted hair (keratin) – with no medicinal properties and without even the aesthetic appeal of ivory.
Despite this, demand is high and the ban is not stopping poaching. High security in key national parks, shoot-to-kill policies and attempts to uncover the criminal syndicates that thrive on the high price of horn have only limited effect and appear to be shifting the focus of poaching rather than seriously reducing it. Most wildlife and conservation NGOs rigidly oppose any suggestion of a legal trade to meet demand and so reduce the appeal of poached ivory.
Speaking at a debate with private rhino breeder John Hume at the Royal Institution in London in August 2016, Will Travers of the Born Free Foundation spoke for many NGOs when he expressed total and absolute opposition to any legal trade. Hume countered with an argument in favour of trade in horn from dehorning rhinos and natural mortality, that would not involve harming rhinos.
As I witnessed on Hume’s ranch, dehorning is painless and does no harm to the animal. Rhinos can be dehorned every 18 months, producing about 0.5-1 kilo of rhino each time. Currently, such horn and horn from natural mortality is collected by private owners who dehorn and by national parks and kept it is under tight security. It cannot be sold or traded. South Africa, which has more rhinos than any other country but also the worst poaching problem, banned domestic sales in 2009. Hume is fighting a court case to overturn that. He wants the right to trade in rhino horn to bring in funds for rhino conservation, anti-poaching and also for community projects.
Proponents of trade in horn argue that dehorning rhinos protects them from poachers and could, if a legal, regulated trade was sanctioned by CITES, provide substantial funds for conservation of rhino and their habitats, more sophisticated anti-poaching techniques and funds for rural development to make rhinos an asset for rural populations (whose poverty is often a driver for recruiting local men as poachers). In September 2016, CITES voted down a request by Swaziland for a limited legal trade in natural mortality ivory from its small population of rhino, so the pro-trade lobby has a fight on its hands in trying to get CITES agreement for a trade in horn.
Both black rhino (CITES appendix 1 listing) and white rhino (appendix 2 listing) are listed by CITES in categories that do not permit trade in horn or other products (with the exception for live South African white rhino already noted). On 8 February, 2017, following earlier court and appeal court decisions lifting the moratorium on domestic trade in rhino horn, the South African Environment Minister published draft regulations for the domestic trade in legally acquired rhino horn, which would also allow the export for “personal” rather than commercial purposes of two rhino horns by persons holding the necessary South African permits and import permits from the country to which they would go. It remains to be seen if this will be fully adopted and how it will affect the poaching epidemic in the country and how CITES will react.
David Cook (formerly director of the Natal Parks Board, and Hluhluwe-Imfolozi senior ranger), believes poaching isn’t declining, it is just shifting location and developing new strategies. In the 1960s, Cook worked closely with renowned conservationist Ian Player to save the Hluhluwe-Imfolozi s white rhino, the last in the region. This operation was responsible for the survival of the white rhino in southern Africa and the enabled the restocking of southern African parks, conservancies and private game reserves. Cook told me that a regulated trade to meet demand legally at a fixed price below the current level and without risk of prosecution for retailers or buyers should be part of a cocktail of measures to further the conservation of rhinos.
While I understand the position of the conservation NGOs and their desire for an ultra-ethical stance on trade in wildlife products, there is an equally strong and ethically-based argument that regulated, non-lethal trade in horn could reduce poaching. It will never totally stop it but could reduce it to a level where rhino numbers increase and funds from legal sales produce a sustainable form of conservation that benefits rhinos and local communities through income from rhino horn. It is Benthamite utilitarianism against a Kantian categorical imperative. The argument by anti-trade that a legalised trade would encourage demand is a strong one, but only if one ignores that there is already considerable demand and rhino numbers are falling fast and consistently. Demand reduction is not working, so a legal trade won’t worsen the situation, it might just reduce poaching sufficiently so that numbers recover rather than keep falling. Trade in non-mortality rhino horn could reduce poaching, though I have no illusions it would stop it completely. Misplaced altruism will not save the rhino. Regulated sustainable-use strategies could.
Professor Keith Somerville teaches at the Centre for Journalism at the University of Kent, is a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies (University of London) and is the author of Ivory: Power and Poaching in Africa (Hurst and Co, November 2016) and Africa’s Long Road Since Independence (Penguin, January 2016).

South Africa – Pretoria brought to a halt by anti-immigrant march


2017-02-24 17:40

Foreign nationals standing in a line facing the SA group and shouting inaudible slurs. (Mpho Raborife, News24)

Foreign nationals standing in a line facing the SA group and shouting inaudible slurs. (Mpho Raborife, News24)

Pretoria – Certain parts of Pretoria came to a standstill on Friday during an anti-immigrant march.

About 136 people were arrested in Pretoria West over the past 24 hours, including during the march on Friday morning, acting national police commissioner Lieutenant General Kgomotso Phahlane said.

However, Phahlane said the situation in Pretoria was “under control”.

“Although people from Mamelodi marched peacefully, a group from Atteridgeville threw stones and bricks. Confrontation with non-South Africans ensued,” he told reporters.

The police said they would update the figure of the arrested individuals on Saturday.

President Jacob Zuma said the march in Pretoria was evidence that citizens were fed up with crime.

Zuma was speaking after the launch of Operation Phakisa, which is aimed at boosting various sectors of the South African economy.

He said the march included foreign nationals, was well organised, and was not xenophobic.

“We do have a big problem. This time around this has been provoked by crime.”

He said the media should be careful about labelling the protests as xenophobic and that political leaders should also be cautious with their messages.

Mamelodi marchers accuse foreigners of destroying local business

2017-02-24 16:30

Atteridgeville. (CICA)

Atteridgeville. (CICA)

2017-02-24 15:06

Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma says the march against immigrants in Pretoria on Friday is evidence that citizens are fed up with crime

Johannesburg – A memorandum that Mamelodi residents handed to the Department of Home Affairs in Pretoria on Friday strongly criticised how they perceived foreign nationals to be conducting themselves in SA.

The memorandum, with a “Concern community for service delivery in Mamelodi” stamp, said government should not allow African immigrants in the area to operate businesses freely and without regulation.

They also criticised authorities for “failing” to clamp down on those without the proper licences and papers.

“We are driven into slavery, both black and white South Africans,” they stated.

This message seemed to contradict the assertion by President Jacob Zuma on Friday that the march in Pretoria was by residents who were fed up by crime.

Speaking after the launch of Operation Phakisa, Zuma said the march included foreign nationals, was well organised, and was not xenophobic.

The three-page memo bemoaned foreign nationals’ involvement in industries like retail, transport, and hospitality.

“Our local hair industry was not protected by Competitions [sic] commission against foreign people charging unfair prices now our industry is destroyed,” it stated.

“Our tuck-shops were destroyed because government did not protect local industries when they know people lack confidence.”

‘Must be deported’

They said African immigrants brought vehicles in from Zimbabwe to run delivery businesses locally, “not paying taxes, not having international drivers’ licences”.

They were opposed to immigrants operating transport businesses with tuk tuks and other methods.

They also felt it was unfair that people, including foreign nationals, were registering to become Uber drivers.

“Local industries are not supported and respected… Stop those businesses. Support the local meter [taxi industry].”

The residents felt that foreign nationals were “destroying” the country’s image.

They accused Zimbabwean churchgoers of messing in public parks and having a hand in attacks at the Groenkloef Nature Reserve.

“They must be deported; immigration must be involved and deport them we are working backwards as a country.”

On living conditions, they said residents had to pay a lot of money toward rent, water and electricity, yet people who invaded land and RDP houses did not have to pay anything.

Zuma said the media should be careful to label protests as xenophobic and that political leaders should also be cautious with their messages.

Crime affected everyone and people were fed up, he said.

“If there are people who occupy houses and use them for crime, this will make people angry. How do we fight crime?

“We must focus on drug lords and deal with them. Those are the gaps we need to close.”

Zuma urges understanding

Whether South African or foreign, criminals should be properly dealt with, Zuma said.

He said it would be a sad day when crime and drugs caused chaos in the country.

He also urged South Africans to be understanding toward foreign nationals.

He questioned how xenophobic South Africans were, saying, if they were, “this country wouldn’t have this many immigrants”.

He said only 5% of immigrants were refugees.

“The number of foreigners in South Africa is far more than in Europe. They don’t want immigrants.”

Zuma said he had met with ministers to discuss what they could do to fight crime.

He would also be talking to police.

South Africa – Atteridgeville blocked ahead of anti-immigrant march

Mail and Guardian

Protests erupted in Atteridgeville last year and various vehicles were torched. (AFP)
Protests erupted in Atteridgeville last year and various vehicles were torched. (AFP)

A march against foreign nationals has already led to the shutdown of entrances and exits in Atteridgeville in Pretoria. On Friday morning residents woke up to find the township blockaded by protesters.

Shops owned by foreign nationals have been looted over the past two weeks in Atteridgeville and Mamelodi. The attacks follow the release of a pamphlet by a group known as the Mamelodi Concerned Residents who accuse government and businesses of giving work to foreign nationals and allege that people from other African countries are responsible for crime in the country. The group has been granted permission to march to the home affairs department in Pretoria on Friday morning.


On Tuesday the Gauteng Civic Association announced that various organisations had agreed to “form a coalition against crime, poverty and xenophobia”.

The African Diaspora Forum, the United Front of Johannesburg and the New Trade Union Federation announced on Friday morning that they too would be holding a press conference to present a “united voice of immigrant, community and labour organisations” on the recent outburts of attacks.

Amid doubt that the Mamelodi Concerned Residents would be given the go ahead to march, it was revealed on Wednesday that permission had been granted for the protest to take place. Organisers met with Tshwane Metro officials, and told SABC that they had been given strict conditions to abide by.

The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NatJoints) said in a statement on Friday that it expects “scores of people” to march through the streets of Tshwane. The security structure, which is responsible for co-ordinating security and law enforcement operations nationally, has urged for peaceful protests and said that they have deployed security officials to keep an eye on the march. However, in Atteridgeville on Thursday morning, onlookers reported that there was no police presence in the area.

Anyone who experiences hate speech or other kinds of violation may report incidents to the police, the NatJoints said.

“The NATJOINTS also urges any person or group who feel that their rights have been infringed in any manner to report such at their nearest police station and not to take the law into their own hands,” the NatJoints said.

On Thursday Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba sent a series of tweets and a statement condemning xenophobic attacks. The statement comes after Mashaba has faced increasing pressure for linking “illegal” foreign nationals to criminality.

The anti-immigrant march is set to begin at 11am on Friday.

South Africa – Zuma condemns attacks on foreigners


South Africa’s Zuma condemns violence against foreigners

JOHANNESBURG South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma has condemned acts of violence between citizens and non-nationals, his office said on Friday.

Anti-immigrant violence has flared sporadically in South Africa against a background of near-record unemployment, with foreigners being accused of taking jobs from citizens and getting involved in crime.

Citizens in Pretoria are set to march against foreigners on Friday and domestic media are reporting vandalism and acts of violence in the Atteridgeville area west of the capital.

At least 20 stores in Pretoria owned by foreigners were looted on Tuesday, but police could not confirm that the attacks had deliberately targeted foreigners.

“Many citizens of other countries living in South Africa are law abiding and contribute to the economy of the country positively. It is wrong to brandish all non-nationals as drug dealers or human traffickers,” Zuma said in a statement.

“The threats and counter-threats on social media must stop,” he added.

In Nigeria, protesters on Thursday demanded that South African citizens and businesses leave the country and vandalised the head office of mobile phone giant MTN (MTNJ.J) in Abuja, in retaliation for anti-Nigerian violence in South Africa.

(Reporting by TJ Strydom; Editing by Joseph Radford)

South Africa – protests in Atteridgeville stops people getting to work


2017-02-24 10:00

Johannesburg – Protesters blocked several streets in Atteridgeville on Friday morning, preventing residents from going to work, Gauteng police said.

– Are you there? Send us your eyewitness accounts and photos.

They also threw rocks and burned tyres, said spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Lungelo Dlamini.

“We are not yet sure why they are protesting. We are not sure whether it’s about the [anti-immigrant] march,” he said.

He could also not give an estimate of how many people were taking part in the protest at this stage but said police were monitoring the situation.

The police were also investigating reports of a newspaper truck that was looted.

Protest action in Atteridgeville
Protest action in Atteridgeville. (Supplied: CICA)

Tshwane metro police spokesperson Superintendent Isaac Mahamba said they had received reports of several shops being looted, but had yet to confirm the incidents.

Morning Live anchor Leanne Manas on Friday tweeted that a news camera and other equipment had been “confiscated” by protesters in Atteridgeville.

She later tweeted that the news crew managed to negotiate with protesters to get the equipment back.

“#Atteridgeville protestors say media portray them in a negative light & call it #xenophobia when all they want is to get rid of criminals,” she tweeted.

Guinea-Bissau – protestors demand resignation of president


BISSAU Hundreds of people marched through the capital of Guinea Bissau on Thursday demanding the departure of President Jose Mario Vaz, a day after parliament rejected a programme submitted by his prime minister.

Vaz appointed Prime Minister Umaro Mokhtar Sissoco Embalo in November after months of regional talks seeking an end to an 18-month political crisis that has paralysed the institutions of the poor West African nation and stoked fears that drug traffickers might profit from the power vacuum.

However, according to the constitution, the prime minister has already missed a 60-day deadline to present a government programme and budget that have to be accepted by parliament.

“The party … voted against the programme of the PM because his government is illegitimate,” said Seidy Ba Sane, a spokesman for the country’s ruling PAIGC party.

Protests are relatively rare in the former Portuguese colony where instability has typically taken the form of military coups, led by officers drawn mostly from a narrow military elite drawn from an ageing batch of soldiers who fought for independence in 1963-1974.

The crowd on the main avenues of the capital Bissau repeatedly chanted “Jomav get out”, using the president’s local nickname, and called for fresh elections.

Sissoco told reporters his party would continue ruling without the confidence of parliament.

Residents say the failure to pass a budget has begun to affect their daily lives and that salaries for civil servants were 10 days late in January.

The United Nations, whose peacekeeping mandate in Guinea Bissau is up for renewal this week at the Security Council, expressed concern this month “over challenges posed by transnational organised crime and emerging threats, including drug trafficking, in the country”.

The country’s network of islands and riverways have in the past been used as a transit point for cocaine from South America to Europe.

Guinea Bissau is one of the world’s poorest countries and its economy is heavily reliant on cashew nut production.

(Reporting by Alberto Dabo; Additional reporting by Emma Farge; Editing by Gareth Jones)