A peace march in Durban, South Africa to end the extreme level of xenophobic attacks has ended in blows when a man called for the King, Goodwill Zwelithini to intervene. A fist fight then began at the Curries Fountain Stadium, before both men were dragged out of the stadium. The march resumed shortly after that amid a very tense atmosphere.

People held up signs which read, “I am my brother’s keeper” and “Africa let’s unite” can be seen at the march.
This morning the crowd shouted “down with xenophobia” and “forward with peace” as they sang struggle songs.

Xenophobia is the illogical fear of anything foreign. Xenophobic attacks are becoming rife in South Africa as foreign nationals are being killed, intimidated and forced out of the country. Last month, Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, traditional leader of the biggest ethnic group in KwaZulu-Natal province, reportedly stated that they needed to “pack their bags and leave”. This call was later supported by Edward Zuma- a president’s son- who told local news agency News24 that South Africa was “sitting on a ticking time bomb of them (foreigners) taking over the country”.

A man was killed when his shop was petrol-bombed last weekend, but eye of media have learnt that the senseless murders have continued into today after a few days of quiet.

At least 50 people have been arrested over the violence, in which about 10 people have been killed. The police have not confirmed the nationalities of the victims. Thousands of foreigners in Durban have fled their homes and are now living in makeshift camps, under police protection. Tensions were still running high on Tuesday, 2,000 armed migrants were engaged in a tense stand-off with police in the city centre, and looting continuing in townships on the outskirts of the city.

Violence against African immigrants in South Africa is common, with impoverished locals accusing foreigners of taking their jobs and business. Since the end of white rule in 1992, the belief that Apartheid had truly been buried attracted several foreigners to a land in which prosperity and criminality sometimes thrive together. The latest outbreak comes after several high-profile figures — including a son of President Jacob Zuma — made divisive comments against foreigners. The government has, however, condemned the violence, with several ministers speaking out. Police Minister Nathi Nhleko called the attacks a form of African “self-hate”, according to News24. “Some of us find it difficult to think that this is just xenophobic. I think it also represents a particular political problem. You don’t see Australians being chased on the street, you don’t see Britons being chased on the streets,” The 73 year old President of South Africa, Jacob Zuba, who was sworn to power in 2009 and was re-elected in 2014 has been seen as the ‘unacceptable face’ of power in many South African circles. In 1963 was once imprisoned for 10 years for attempting to overthrow the Apartheid government, and had corruption charges levelled against him for Fraud by the national director of public prosecutions. Those charges were eventually dropped on procedural grounds because he had not been given reasonable opportunity to defend them. The President , who joined politics from a young age has also overcome charges of rape. You are innocent until proven guilty, but with such troubled past with the judiciary, he may not be the most popular with South Africans. Not especially a country which not too long ago was under white rule. The ANC leader clearly has a challenging task of uniting a divided people and enhancing his own credibility as a fitting leader for a country with a much troubled past.

The violence began against grocery shop owners by foreign nationals, largely from Somalia and Ethiopia. Literally driving them away, the attackers took over their businesses and even stole their cash. It has been reminiscent of the 2008 xenophobic attacks in which 62 people were killed. Now it is spreading against all African foreigners, leaving many feeling terrified and hopeless. Somalia national Ebrahim Mohamad Ali, who runs a coffee shop in Johannesburg lost his brother in the attacks 7 years ago and has barely overcome the pain and sorrow of that loss. He told The eye of media “ my brother was killed in the attacks in 2008, by those xenophobic guys. His blood is on their head, a needless murder. They killed him in that robbery, for xenophobia. As for me, I lost everything, he said, every single penny. All the money I had sweat for was gone”

Ethiopian national Sarah Kidane is disorientated and very low in spirit after being chased out of her shop in Soweto after working so hard to build it up.
“I am feeling very worried and anxious, she told eye of media in a telephone conversation. I have lost most of what I worked for and feel hopeless. At least I have my life, I thought I was going to loose my life too. I was losing my life. I have no choice but to go back, this is where I am based. I can’t go back to Ethiopia, I don’t understand why these people are being so stupid”

The police have been accused of doing very little, even turning a blind eye according to some.

Many others, like 25-year-old John Alemu, say they are puzzled by the attacks.
“We are meant to be African brothers, but they treat us like enemies. It is problem after problem. They kill our brothers and they rob our own shops,” said Alemu. They are just targeting everyone foreign, do they think they are the original owners of this land? They don’t understand that some of their ancestors were foreigners too.

It is hoped that the peace march will bring some understanding and also prompt the authorities to take the necessary steps to bring the violence and mayhem to a halt. If the employment rate is low, the responsibility is on the South African government to create jobs.

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