JOHANNESBURG. — South African political parties yesterday demanded that arrests be made in connection with the killing of a Mozambican man in Alexandra, Johannesburg, as xenophobic violence plagued parts of the country last week. But police said they were still investigating if his death was related to xenophobia, saying it seemed to have been related to an argument between a street vendor and a customer.
Congress of the People president Mosiuoa Lekota demanded to know whether “the callous and easily identified murderers” of the man, named as Emmanuel Sithole by the Sunday Times, had been arrested and would be delivered to court immediately.
“We feel so sick, revolted and horrified at the brutal and unprovoked murder of an innocent man for no other reason than that he was a Mozambican. That he was a fellow African matters not a jot,” Lekota said in a statement.
“Nothing less than swift and stern justice will suffice in the circumstances. For once the criminal justice system should show that the wheels of justice are capable of turning.” Democratic Alliance Gauteng safety and security spokesperson Kate Lorimer said the “monsters” that killed Sithole on Saturday must “be hunted down and prosecuted to the full extent of the law”.
“Provincial Commissioner Lesetja Mothiba must use every tool (including the offer of a reward) and every SAPS member he can, to find and arrest these men. They cannot be allowed to get away with this brutal act,” she said.
“If we, as South Africans, do not make an example of them, we are failing ourselves and all those people under threat. We have to show we are serious about punishing xenophobic thugs who are shaming us across the globe.” Lekota said if the government could not act with energy and swiftness, it should resign.
“The lacklustre performance of this massive and costly government, one of the largest in the world, has created a great international liability for South Africa and has deeply shamed all of us,” Lekota said.
“If we do not rein in the forces of anarchy and evil now and if consequences don’t follow for what happened, before witnesses, the good story of President Zuma will become a living nightmare for all of us.”
Earlier yesterday, Gauteng police said they were investigating whether the attack on Sithole over the weekend was linked to the xenophobic violence that has occurred in parts of the country.
“The information we have is that he was a street vendor who had an argument with a customer, who allegedly stabbed him and he was taken to hospital where he died. At this stage we are speaking to several witnesses and following leads,” police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said.
“He is a Mozambican national. Whether the matter was an attack on a foreign national forms part of the investigation.”
By yesterday afternoon, Dlamini said police had not yet linked Sithole’s death to the threats of violence against foreign nationals. “We are still interviewing witnesses and investigating a case of murder, following several leads,” he said.
Last week, the Law Society of SA (LSSA) and Business Unity SA (Busa) condemned the killing of foreign nationals, urged all South Africans involved in the attacks to end the violence, and to take the country back to a peaceful place.
“Twenty-two years ago this month South Africa was held up as a shining example of how different cultures could strive together to live in a peaceful, democratic and prosperous country,” the society said in a statement on Friday.
“This week local and international media has shown a very different picture, one that we are all ashamed of and distressed by.”
The LSSA said it had engaged with the KwaZulu-Natal Law Society and the Law Society of the Northern Province, which have jurisdiction over attorneys in the affected areas and both agreed that attorneys will be available to provide pro bono legal assistance on an exceptional basis to xenophobia victims, both foreign and local, should their services be required.
Busa said it was concerned about the violence that has erupted against foreign nationals and the gross violence of their human rights.
“In an environment where our economy is experiencing fiscal constraints and where economic growth is not at the level required to create the much needed jobs in order to achieve the NDP vision 2030, the last thing we need is a further dent on investor confidence,” Busa said in a statement on Thursday.
The continued violence against foreign nationals was sending a negative message to the international business community and could potentially affect South African businesses that are operating in the region and the continent.
Six people died last week, and thousands were displaced as hostility between some locals and foreigners escalated in Durban and parts of Johannesburg. — News24.