Johannesburg – The Right2Know Campaign has blamed the recent attacks on foreigners squarely at the feet of government.
In a statement sent out on Monday amid the continued looting and burning of foreign-owned shops in Gauteng, the organisation blamed Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba, Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini and president Cyril Ramaphosa.
The organisation said the attacks on non-South Africans can be directly linked to calls by politicians to ‘defend the sovereignty of the state’ and confirms a dangerous emerging trend of "xenophobic populism" which leads to attacks on foreign nationals.
"We recognise that there are many sources of the violence but it is also clear that statements of outrage and condemnation by state officials at all levels (Cabinet, Parliament, the Gauteng Province, SAPS and Metros) fuelled the actions of ordinary citizens who interpreted those statements to be licence to take the law into their own hands.
"Senior political leaders find an easy target in the vulnerable Africans seeking to make a new home in South Africa.
"Indeed, there is a dangerous emerging trend of xenophobic populism that leads to attacks on foreign nationals. In 2015, Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini’s speech, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 2019 election campaign pronouncements, the Minister of Health’s comments on the strain placed on health services by foreign migrants, and the xenophobic blaming for Johannesburg’s ill by Mayor Herman Mashaba have been followed by xenophobic attacks in different localities.
"In all these instances, even when not responding to a direct call, political populism is used as justification by instigators and perpetrators who would have been waiting for an opportunity to strike for their own reasons.
The chaos erupted over the weekend after residents went on a rampage following a blaze at a building that claimed three lives in Jeppestown.