Blame Mashaba for recent violence against foreigners‚ says newly-formed coalition

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The coalition‚ made up of both South Africans and representatives of local foreigner communities‚ under the auspices of the Lawyers for Human Rights‚ briefed journalists in Pretoria on Tuesday.

The coalition’s formation comes just days ahead of a planned march by “concerned residents” of Mamelodi‚ who claim foreigners living in the area are taking local jobs.

Head of the refugee and migrants rights programme at Lawyers for Human Rights‚ Sharon Ekambaram‚ said Mashaba must take responsibility for his utterances.

“It is really irresponsible of politicians to incite this kind of violence and we lay the responsibility for this violence at his door‚” she said.

Ekambaram said it was not true that immigrants were taking locals’ jobs and business opportunities‚ saying research demonstrated that less than 18% of small business were owned by foreigners and over 50% were owned by South Africans.

Ekambaram called on police to do their work and bring the perpetrators of violence to book.

On Monday night foreign owned shops were looted in Atteridgeville while on Saturday the homes of suspected drug dealers and brothels‚ said to be owned by foreigners‚ were torched in Pretoria West.

Following the weekend attacks‚ the Nigerian government urged the African Union to step in to stop any further attacks on Nigerian citizens living in South Africa.

Makgoka Lekganyane‚ one of the organisers of the march planned for Friday‚ said the group wasn’t being xenophobic.

“This is a peaceful march… We are going to the department of home affairs‚ the department of labour‚ and we are going to raise our objections at the metro police department‚” he said.

“We urge everyone that this is a peaceful march. If you are not intending on being peaceful‚ please do not come.”

He said the group’s main concern was high unemployment levels‚ saying government was allowing too many foreigners into South Africa.

Meanwhile‚ the Tshwane Metro Police say they have not approved the Mamelodi residents’ march.

“As it stands‚ they don’t have permission to march. To say they have permission‚ is to mislead the public‚” said Tshawne Metro police spokesman Isaac Mahamba.

Mametlwe Sebei‚ of Lawyers for Human Rights‚ said the organisation would do everything possible to block the march‚ including distributing pamphlets warning people against participating in the march.

“To Allow a march like this to proceed‚ I think that is fundamentally wrong but more than that we believe that it are communities that must rise up and take a stand on principles of solidarity‚” Sebei said.

The South African Human Rights Commission and religious leaders have also expressed concern with escalating incidents of violence directed at foreign nationals and of destruction of property.

TMG Digital/TimesLIVE

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