Call for state to act on xenophobia

The government needs to take the lead in tackling xenophobia and the fear-of-invasion mindset in townships needs to be probed.

These were some of the points raised at a Communities of African Nationals in South Africa (CANiSA) meeting at the Port Elizabeth City Hall at the weekend.

The CANiSA general assembly, which normally takes place during Africa Month in May, was moved forward in light of xenophobic violence brewing in Johannesburg.

Representatives from more than 30 African nationals from 44 countries joined the discussion.

The panel, which included former mayor Nceba Faku, black consciousness activist Moki Cekisani and Inkulufreeheid representative Loyiso Saliso, debated the role the government ought to play in curbing and dealing with xenophobia.

African nationals were also advised to uphold the rule of law in the country, as they were visitors.

CANiSA secretary General Abdul Olatunji said the event sought to address issues facing both students and professionals in the Eastern Cape community of African nationals.

“It is important to touch on pertinent issues that South Africans have been saying, for instance that some people are into illicit businesses,” he said.

“People also need to understand that when you are in a country that is not yours, you need to understand what the rule of law is and comply with all that the immigration law states and respect that.”

Olatunji said it was important residents began to see themselves as one Africa, instead of divided.

Faku, an anti-xenophobia committee member, said the fight against xenophobia was not a non-profit organisation issue and that the government should get involved.

“It is time that organisations such as CANiSA take the issue of xenophobia beyond law enforcement,” Faku said.

“It needs to be taken into government because there is a particular mindset that in black townships there is a fear of invasion.

“It is therefore important that we deal with the actions that provoke this mentality. We need to identify the conduct of our African brothers and sisters in areas where they stay.”

Faku suggested that employers be investigated as to why they preferred employing African nationals.

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