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Anti-Xenophobia March Planned for Saturday after Having Been Halted by JMPD

Umm Muhammed Umar

The Kopanang Africa Against Xenophobia group had been prevented from holding a march on Sunday by the JMPD, reportedly to prevent any disruption on Human Rights Day. The recently formed group had planned to march through the streets of Hillbrow to raise awareness of attacks on immigrants. Spokesperson for the group, Dr Dale McKinley spoke to Radio Islam.

The Kopanang Africa Against Xenophobia group was formed in response to an organization called Operation Dudula, which has sprung up in Gauteng. Operation Dudula has been led by, “xenophobe in chief”, Lux Dlamini, according to McKinley. McKinley said that Operation Dudula members had  taken it upon themselves to go after ‘illegal immigrants’. He said, “They’ve been fomenting hatred, division, attacking informal traders in Soweto and Alex, and forming branches, and basically attempting to divide South Africans from immigrants.”

Activists from several civil society organizations decided to show a coordinated response, calling themselves Kopanang Africa Against Xenophobia, in a bid display that xenophobic violence was not acceptable, and against the South African constitution. This was why the march had been organized for Human Rights Day.

McKinley said that after having followed all the proper procedures, and waiting for over 10 days to go through the notification process, the JMPD, had, on the very last day before the long weekend, refused the group permission to march. When asked why, the group was given, according to McKinley, two very irrational reasons. He said, “One was that Operation Dudula was threatening violence and disruption of the march, and therefore we couldn’t march, in other words, the cops are basically saying, we can’t do our jobs. We can’t protect you.” He added, “the second one was that Operation Dudula has been circulating a fake news poster – we had sent out a poster about the march, and what somebody had done, was photoshopped it, and they had turned it into a fake news poster which said: Come and join all the illegal immigrants who are marching in Hillbrow against South African laws.” The JMPD then accused the group of having circulated the photoshopped poster, and of wanting to gather illegal immigrants and break the laws in South Africa.

McKinley, however, remained confident that the opportunity was still not lost. He said, “What we have done is we immediately filed an application in the High Court……. on an urgent basis to overturn the prohibition…………we intend to march this coming Saturday. So, for us, it’s a few days of delay in terms of the march.” He added that Kopanang Africa Against Xenophobia expected the court to overturn the prohibition as there was no legal basis for it.

The group, meanwhile, intends to continue fighting xenophobia in SA, to change, for example, immigration policies, to push for the opening up of proper refugee processing and centres, and to persuade politicians to crack down on xenophobia. McKinley said that it was encouraging to see President Cyril Ramaphosa saying that Operations Dudula’s actions were illegal and criminal.

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