School pupils flood Durban streets amid tensions
Jeff Wicks | 2017-05-30 11:22:53.0
Kwamashu resident and students protesting through the streets .
Image by: Jackie Clausen
Thousands of school children in KwaMashu marched through the Durban township on Tuesday morning to protest over the alleged abduction of children – an allegation that safety and security officials have labelled as “fake news”.
Tensions overflowed on Monday night‚ when the township was placed on police lockdown as scores of shops owned by foreign nationals were looted and torched. The situation was still tense on Tuesday morning.
The increasingly violent standoff – which included police coming under fire – appears to have stemmed from a message circulating on social media claiming that three children were abducted by foreign nationals in KwaMashu‚ in the north of Durban‚ last week.
While police have denied knowledge of any such incident‚ residents of the area appear to fully believe the claims.
On Tuesday morning‚ thousand of scholars flooded the streets‚ moving through the area’s various sections to pull other pupils from classes.
Metro police and Public Order Policing Unit officers struggled to direct the throngs‚ which would periodically reroute down side roads when they spotted another school.
One scholar at the JG Zuma High School told TMG Digital that the community was gripped by fear of abductions.
“We are afraid to go to school because the children are being stolen. That and also they want to steal body parts. We are living with this fear‚” he said.
KwaZulu-Natal community safety MEC Mxolisi Kaunda expressed shock and dismay at the violence and described the abduction claims as “fake reports” and “fake news”.
“We condemn this abuse of social networks and wish to caution members of the community not to act on fake news. Let us not act on fake news. We need to get police to investigate these. This is a very disturbing and dangerous trend when people just react to unconfirmed and fake reports. Such reports should be handled with caution‚” said Kaunda.
He added that‚ a week ago‚ similar claims were circulated and also found to be untrue.
The apparent xenophobic attacks in KwaMashu will be on top of the agenda for Premier Willies Mchunu as he addresses the portfolio committee on the office of the premier on Tuesday.
According to a statement issued by Mchunu‚ a social cohesion summit had been planned for KwaMashu long before the attacks spread.
“I will brief members of the committee about the social cohesion and moral regeneration summit scheduled to take place in KwaMashu Christian Centre. We will outline measures that government‚ working with leaders of society‚ have put in place to deal with the latest outbreak of xenophobic attacks in KwaMashu‚” he said.
“We have invited leaders of society‚ academics and ordinary members of society to attend this summit. We call for maximum restraint during this period.”
The summit is expected to take place on Thursday and Friday.
-Additional reporting by Matthew Savides