JOHANNESBURG, 22 JUNE. Kopanang Africa Against Xenophobia condemns in the strongest terms the burning of the Yeoville Market in the early hours of Tuesday 21st June.
The fire comes in the wake of reports of threats by supporters of Operation Dudula to attack the market last week. The xenophobic organisation found itself outnumbered by people standing by to defend stallholders and left without achieving their stated aim of closing down the market. Subsequently, threats were made, including that the market would be burned down.
KAAX is treating the destruction of the market as a deliberate and violent act of arson by supporters of Operation Dudula and others who have a vested interest in removing the existing market vendors. Many of these stallholders have now tragically lost everything and are left in despair and in debt. These are amongst the most vulnerable of people in our society, working class men and women, whose survival depends on the meager earnings that are made selling goods on the market in Yeoville.
Operation Dudula officials have denied involvement.
Yesterday, hours after the market was set on fire, leading xenophobe, Nhlanhla Lux, acted as master of ceremonies during a large Soweto shutdown that Operation Dudula did not initially organise. The people rose up over genuine concerns, but Operation Dudula opportunistically stepped in to control the handing over of the memorandum to the Mayor of Johannesburg. This happened in front of hundreds of people who travelled from Soweto to Johannesburg to voice their grievances against the electricity crisis, poor service delivery, delays in the R350 grant payments and general failure of the ANC government to treat people with human dignity.
In the CBD, several elderly Sowetans spoke to the nation through the many TV cameras beaming live broadcasts. Lux listened, holding the microphone, nodding and showing empathy – hours after the burning of the market that destroyed the livelihoods of many women breadwinners. He stood there imitating respectability, while his supporters rampaged at Park Station, removing street vendors, and threatening them.
Operation Dudula and their cousins on the highways that attack and kill truck drivers, the ADTF, blame migrants for the unemployment crisis. This is a lie! These organisations are collectively guilty of causing mayhem and hatred within communities and workplaces while claiming that they care about the plight of ordinary South Africans.
But equally guilty are:
- The Ministers and state officials who do not condemn nor act on this violence.
- The Police who stand by and do nothing except legitimize attacks on vulnerable people that they should be protecting.
- The mainstream media that gives platforms and legitimacy to people like Lux whose politics represent a direct attack on democracy, including media freedom and independence.
This is an appeal to people living in communities ravaged by the socio-economic crisis that is affecting the poorest, marginalized black Africans living in our country. KAAX calls on us all to unite and denounce these acts of hatred and divisions. The enemy is the capitalist system that sows divisions and exploitation, to make excessive profits. Unity and solidarity is required to counter forces of evil like Operation Dudula who stand to benefit while the conditions that the majority of people live under remain unchanged. The government must be held accountable since it has a constitutional obligation to address the socio-economic crisis and gaping equality gap between the tiny minority of stinking rich people and the majority who live in abject poverty. It is only through measures including a basic income grant and a wealth tax that the conditions of ordinary people in South Africa will begin to be addressed.
Claire Ceruti 0823329874
Nobuhle Ajiti 0744583299
This press statement was released by Kopanang Africa Against Xenophobia on 22 June 2022.