JOHANNESBURG – Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini faces another charge of hate speech and violating human rights – this time by the SA National Defence Union.
Tim Flack, famously booted out of a Parliament committee meeting in 2013 for wearing shorts, said he was spurred into action after watching complaints on Twitter that not enough was being done to stop xenophobic violence in South Africa by the country’s Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba.
He said they were rounding on Gigaba’s spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete and getting “big mouthed and sitting around having tea’’ but not doing anything about it.
“I decided I should probably also not be just tweeting about it, I should do something myself,” said Flack, who is part of the Western Cape organiser of the SA National Defence Union..
“It seems that couch activism and having hashtags doesn’t do anything.”
He decided to go ahead and lay the charge online on the SA Human Rights Commission’s website, for allegedly inciting violence, and sedition.
He said the commission acknowledged his complaint, telling him it had been referred to its KwaZulu-Natal office.
The rights Flack alleges were violated by the king include the rights to dignity, security, life, movement and residence, contained in the Bill of Rights.
This followed reports of a speech he made in Pongola, KwaZulu-Natal, towards the end of March in which the king complained about crime and dirty streets.
Saying, “forgive me but I must speak”, according to an eNCA translation of the clip from Zulu, he said, reportedly, that immigrants should “take their bags and go”.
“So I cited those [rights] and mentioned that I believed he had incited xenophobic attacks and destabilised portions of the country.”
“I want him to be criminally charged for this, and he needs to be held accountable in terms of the law. He can’t expect there to be no repercussions.”
SAHRC spokesperson Isaac Mangena could not immediately confirm Flack’s complaint, but said he had just returned from an SAHRC trip to KwaZulu-Natal, which included a visit to the king’s office for a similar complaint received a few weeks ago.
He would not say who had laid that complaint, nor the outcome of the meeting at the king’s office.
City Press reported that king said his words had been lost in translation and that he had been misquoted.
Mangena said SAHRC team had visited camps housing displaced people and lamented the poor conditions there, which included two children being taken to hospital by ambulance to be treated for diarrhoea.
“The situation is grave. It is very sad. The places that these people are staying at are not really meant for a long period stay. There are concerns about health, especially women and children.”
The commission called on authorities to make sure they are properly housed.
Mangena said there had been simmering tensions in KwaZulu-Natal for a long time – mostly around businesses, and the looting was evidence that poverty was playing an important role in it.
Can’t blame the king
King Zwelithini is not to blame for the recent xenophobic attacks in KwaZulu-Natal, a cultural expert said on Wednesday.
Speaking to the City Press, University of KwaZulu-Natal’s Professor Sihawukele Ngubane said the ongoing spate of xenophobic attacks could not be placed solely on the king’s shoulders.
“I believe that people have used the speech he made at Pongola to fulfil ambitions that had long since been burning.
“There has been no reason at all for these acts to be committed here; it is just something people wanted to do and they are doing it under the pretence of the words of the king.”
Ngubane agreed that the context of the speech made by Zwelithini had not been given full consideration, leading to the blame being put on the king.
“Traditionally the king has the highest authority over his nation, which is the nation of the Zulus.
“In the past when the king made a pronouncement it was considered with high regard by the people. His word was final.
“Since then, however, the king has made many pronouncements, most of which have been completely disregarded,” he said.
Ngubane added that the king had made a number of calls with regard to social issues that have been devastating KwaZulu-Natal, but none of these were taken seriously.
“These acts are wrong. I condemn them.
“As Africans on this continent we need to unite and speak against this,” said Ngubane.
Stop the killing – Zuma
President Jacob Zuma called for an end to the killing linked to the xenophobic attacks on Wednesday that has left five people dead in the Durban area, and put parts of Johannesburg on edge.
“I think this now must stop, because we cannot continue killing one another,” said Zuma in a pre-recorded message broadcast countrywide on public radio and television channels from Wednesday afternoon.
“What is happening in our country is not acceptable,” said Zuma on the SABC Afrikaans news.
“We condemn this that people are attacked, and killed. We cannot accept that when there are challenges, we then use violence, particularly to our brothers and sisters from the continent. We have said before, that when we were in trouble, they helped us to fight our own liberation. They did not chase us away. And, therefore, it is important for us to bear that in mind.”
He said government was aware of the “frustrations” people in South Africa had been voicing.
“Perhaps as government we have not been very quick in addressing these issues.”
He had asked three ministers to address the “issue” and to find ways of avoiding friction so that people would not take their frustrations out on foreigners.
Finding a way to ‘co-exist’
He conveyed his condolences to the victims of xenophobia, and to those who had lost their loved ones.
“As Africans, as people who are belonging to the same continent we need to find a way and the government is working hard to find a way where there will be co-existence, properly without depriving people of certain opportunities, these matters must be discussed properly.
“We have seen the anger, we accept that people are frustrated, we are calling for calm, that we should solve these problems.”
State Security Minister David Mahlobo said: “Don’t let people use our name to commit criminal acts in our country, whether you are South African or a foreign national. We have heard that local traders say that foreigners are taking their jobs. We want to tell you that we are on top of the situation, we know that we are dealing with a big problem.
Meanwhile, about 20 foreign nationals arrived at the Primrose police station on Wednesday night saying they were scared, Gauteng police said after an afternoon of attacks and vehicle stonings in Johannesburg.
“The group of foreign nationals went to the police station saying they are afraid for their lives,” said Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini. – News24