Tuesday, May 26, 2015


"They came and tried to attack me again after asking me what I am still doing here while other people have left the country."
By Subry Govender Nearly two months after the outbreak of another round of xenophobia in South Africa, about 500 foreign nationals are still being sheltered in an over-crowded camp in Durban. They are part of the more than 5 000 people who had sought refuge at two camps in the city after they were attacked and displaced early in April. The xenophobic attacks took place in several areas in and around Durban and Johannesburg after the Zulu King, Goodwill Zwelithini, called on foreign nationals to pack their bags and return to their home countries. The King later called on his subjects to desist from attacking foreign nationals after being pressurised by the South African Government and human rights organisations. Subry Govender visited the refugee camp in an area called Chatsworth in Durban and filed this report about the desperate plight of the remaining displaced migrants.......... .
Surrounded by tight security and manned both by security guards and South African Police Force members, about 500 foreign nationals are still being sheltered in the Westcliffe area of Chatsworth in Durban, South Africa. One has to pass through a security gate to enter the area and you have to report your presence to the municipal and government officials. Visitors, including journalists, are not allowed to enter the main area where the displaced foreign nationals sleep in two huge marquees. There are also smaller tents inside the camp where the people are provided with meals and medical care. The foreign nationals, mainly from the Congo and Burundi, are a traumatic lot as they are not keen to return to the areas in and around Durban where they had been attacked, robbed of their possessions and forced to flee for their lives. Many of them have been in South Africa for 10 and 15 years and they feel they are not safe in the country as they have been targeted several times since 2008 when the first phase of xenophobic attacks took place. They appear to be disillusioned and lost despite the South African Government, its leaders, national and provincial ministers, local government mayors and officials and all progressive forces embarking on a major campaign to condemn the violence and to help the victims soon after the outbreak of the latest round of xenophobic attacks early in April. Peace rallies were also held in Durban and Johannesburg under the theme "We are all Africans". They told me that foreign nationals were still being attacked and killed and provided me with newspaper clippings of recent attacks.
(STEVE MESHE FROM THE CONGO) Steve Meshe is a 35-year-old Congolese who returned to an area of Effingham with his wife and three children a week ago after being encouraged to do so by South African Government officials. But Meshe, who has been in South Africa for the past 10 years and has been working as a car guard to earn a living, was forced to return to the camp in Chatsworth. He was was attacked on his way to work a few days ago. "They came and tried to attack me again after asking me what I am still doing here while other people have left the country," he said. "Someone pointed a gun at my back and another person shoved a knife in my stomach. They took whatever I had and threw my bag into the bush. They promised that if they see me again they will shoot me. "My wife then advised me to return to the shelter in Chatsworth. I was here for one and half months, I left a week ago but I am back again," he said.
(BIGARAMAN ANISET FROM BURUNDI) A forty-five-year-old man from Burundi, Bigaraman Aniset, who has been in South Africa for the past 12 years with his wife and six children, is also a broken person. He has been at the camp for the past one month. He says he was forced to flee the area where he lived with his family because the locals accused him of taking away their jobs. He worked as a truck driver. "You see." he said, "we cannot go back to the place where our brothers were burnt and killed". "To go back to the same area is not possible because we will be the next to be killed. "I want the UN to take me where I can get the peace. We don't have peace here."
(DIDIER BIGAMBE OF THE CONGO) Another victim, Didier Bigambe, who is also from the Congo, told me all the people still in the camp appreciated the efforts of the South African Government but their experiences on the ground were directly opposite to the: "We are all Africans" - messages being given by President Jacob Zuma, his ministers and the media. "I lost all my personal belongings and my business," he said. "I don't even have twenty rand. I have asked them to deport me home. I want to go back home like the Malawians and Zimbabweans. I am a human being. If I don't feel safe you can't force me to go back to the community. But they are forcing us here to always go back to the community. We want to go back home." The officials at the camp say they are doing everything in their power either to make it possible for the remaining victims to re-integrate in the communities or to return to their home countries. They emphasised the camp was only temporary.
(DR AINSLEE McCARTHY) One of the medical officials providing health care to the refugees, Dr Ainslee McCarthy, of Medicines San Frontier ( Doctors Without Borders), said they had found that most of the victims had been seriously traumatised by the latest xenophobic attacks. She said they understood the fears being expressed by the people at the camp. "A large portion of them have stories about being treated unfairly by people in positions of power, whether it's the police or some officials in Home Affairs, or when they had gone to clinics and told that they are foreigners," said Dr McCarthy. "They are asked why you here, told you must go back to your country, you taking our jobs, you creating problems for us, they are very aware of this and it's hard for them to bridge the gap. "So it's one of the main roles the UNHCR, Community Safety and Liaison and other actors in the shelter are working on in trying to bridge this gap." Over the past few days, South African leaders have gone out of their way to celebrate and observe Africa Day and promote African unity and development through the Pan African Parliament and other events. Despite these efforts, many foreign nationals are still not convinced that they are safe in the country.

Thursday, May 14, 2015




By Subry Govender
The residents of Ottawa, near Verulam, on the North Coast have made urgent representations to the Ethekwini Municipality to help the community in protecting the area from degeneration and degradation.
The residents, led by the Ottawa Environmental Forum, have submiited a memorandum to the municipality about the degeneration of the area that has been allowed to take place over the past few years.


The residents have highlighted the destruction of the Ottawa River by unscrupulous truck owners who are dumping sand and rubbish into the river; the use of residential properties in Munn Road and Riverview Road  for their prepesterous and illegal actions; the use of residential properties in Kissoon Road, Maharaj Road, Riverview Road and Munn Road for the parking of huge trucks; the dumping of sand, reclaiming of land and establishment of a livestock business near the Ottawa bridge; the use of an area at the entrance to School Road for anti-social activities; the alleged use of the Ottawa Community Hall by squatters; and the general litter and filth that has enveloped the main road and the other roads in the village.

A meeting was held with two municipal officials recently after the Ottawa Environment Forum submitted its complaints.
The municipal officials were appalled at the situation and promised to take appropriate actions and to work with the Forum to clean up the area.

Mr Atom Dilraj, an official of the Ottawa Environmental Forum, said the residents were deeply concerned about the general degeneration that has engulfed the village.
"We are particularly concerned at the uncontrolled filling of the river bank on both sides in the Ottawa section between R102 and the Ottawa Old Main Road.
"We cannot allow this historic village to be destroyed by the lack of concern for the environment. The municipality must take urgent steps to clean up the litter and filth by consulting with the residents," he said. ENDS - SG

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


By Subry Govender

Hundreds of Ethekwini municipal workers on the North Coast used the council's vehicles  to attend a union meeting called by the SA Municial Workers Union (SAMU) at the Ottawa Community Hall early on Tuesday, May 12.
The workers used the council's cars and trucks (big and small) to arrive from KwaMashu, Phoenix, Verulam, Tongaat and other areas in the vicinity.

They crowded Maharaj Road to such an extent that it appeared there was an "important" gathering about service delivery taking place.
Instead they used the "working hours" to discuss their wage demands. They are demanding about 10,5 percent in salary increases, while, it's understood, the municipality is only offering about five percent.
One of the workers told me that they are granted permission every month to attend "union" meetings during working hours.

When asked why couldn't have their union meetings during their own time, he responded by saying:
"If we have our meetings during our own times then the municipality won't take us seriously."
A resident in the area said he was surprised to see such a large number of municipal vehicles crowding up the residential area.
"This is absolute waste of ratepayers'money," he said.
"I am just wondering whether the Mayor and other officials are aware that municipal vehicles are used by workers to attend union meetings during working hourse.
"This is just another demonstration of the lack of commitment to work. Why do they have to waste ratepayers' money like this?", he asked.
The resident said he hoped that the workers, many of them who occupy senior positions, would have noticed the degeneration and degradation taking place in Ottawa.
"We are fed up with all the litter, filth and rubbish being dumped every where. We are also fed up with truck owners using residential areas to park their vehicles and to dump sand and rubbish in the Ottawa River.
"We are also fed up with the failure of the municipality to show more concern about the interests of ratepayers."  ends - sg/dbn May 12 2015

Friday, May 8, 2015



By Subry Govender
Two of the main candidates vying to fill the leadership position of the official opposition Democratic Alliance(DA) in South Africa want to work towards building "a better future for all South Africans" in a non-racial democracy.
Thirty-five-year-old Mmusi Maimane, who is the leader of the DA in national parliament, and Professor Wilmot James (62), DA Federal Council chairperson and MP, spoke to this correspondent about their eagerness to occupy the leadership role that is being vacated by Ms Helen Zille.
The elections will take place during a meeting of the DA  in the South African city of Port Elizabeth on Saturday, May 9 and Sunday, May 10 2014.


                                                                    (Mmusi Maimane)

Maimane, who has made his mark in South African politics by speaking out against corruption and other social ills afflicting the country, and James, who claims he's a former anti-apartheid activist, shared their views about "a non-racial and democratic South Africa for all" during their election campaigns in Durban in the first week of May.

               "WE WANT TO BUILD A BETTER                        
"The greatest challenge is that we have many political parties who are fighting for a better yesterday," said Maimane.
"Ours, on the other hands, is to say how do we build a better tomorrow? How do we ensure that South Africans know that we have an economy that is inclusive, have an education system that empowers them, that we ultimately build a non-racial society. The DA will champion that cause because while others are trying to take us backwards, we want to take South Africa forward, united behind a vision that says all of us can be key contributors to this nation."

              "THE MODEL WE HAVE AT THE


But will the DA ever become the Government of South Africa?
"A lot of the time we are living here in South Africa today reminds me of the 80s. You know in the 80s if you told the National Party Government that they would be out of power by the end of the decade, very few people would have believed you. But infact when a society becomes unstable, change is accelerated. The xenophobic attacks, the high levels of unemployment indicates that we a South Africa that faces serious tensions. And I think change is upon us, I'm seeing it in the key metros - whether those are in the Nelson Mandela Bay, Tshwane, Johannesburg, Ekurleni, Umgeni, Western Cape. We can win more metros. It will then put a more accelerated form of change and I believe South Africa will be a different place and I think - whether 1919 or 2024 - we will see a political re-alignment in South Africa. For  certainly the model we have at the moment is not sustainable."



What about claims that the DA represents a white agenda in South Africa?
"The ANC wants to believe that a black South African in another political party can only be a puppet. They are fundamentally racist. I think they fail to recognise that South Africans can be in different parties, regardless of race. They want to perpetuate the view that black people cannot lead in other places. All that is important is that I will be coming into the DA I want to put my imprint into the organisation, I want to ensure that it is a transformed one, it's a one that will speak to the needs of the people and I think that is very possible, we can build it and I think we can continue that momentum so I am not anxious of what the ANC says."

                   BLACK AFRICAN VOTE

In order to displace the ANC, you have to win the votes of a majority of the black African people?
"It's happening," he said, "and it's starting to grow".
"The majority of our voters are in fact not white. So it's already happening and we will continue the growth. And I think if you look at Gauteng, for example, the ANC had a 64 percent majority, we pulled them down to 53 percent, we got into the 30s, now 30 percent of the voting population in Gauteng cannot be white, surely. It's a diverse vote, so if we continue to grow at that level, the ANC will be out of Government."




                                                  (Professor Wilmot James)

                                   OF APARTHEID

The other main candidate, Wilmot James, is an academic who also has a strong commitment to creating a society where race will not be the criteria.
"I have an understanding of the indignity of apartheid, I was part of the struggle against apartheid, I was part of the processes that built the new constitution, I was part of the process to making sure that this democracy becomes sustainable," he said.
As far as he's concerned, this ideal has now failed South Africans.
"I believe that the DA is the only party that is left standing who can stem the tide of corruption, stem the tide of decline and what the DA needs to do is to focus clearly and concentrate on the importance of dealing with the central issues that South Africans face - and that's unemployment, poverty, inequality, poor health care, poor education and high levels of crime," he said.

                    DA REPRESENTS WHITE

James also dismissed claims that the DA represented white interests.
"It's a lie. I don't care what the ANC says because it's self-serving. We are not a white party, we do not represent white interests, whatever that is. We are a non-racial party and you can attend any of our meetings, rallies, gatherings and you can see for yourself.
"We are a party in the process of change and we believe that we have become more and more diverse as time goes on. Presently we are not a white party. It's an ANC lie and they must stop peddling that lie."
He was also optimistic that sooner or later the DA would challenge the ANC for power in the whole of South Africa.
"It's hard to predict when it will happen but we are the only growing party," he said.
He added: "We used to be a party of one percent, now we are a party of 23 percent. So we have grown enormously. One in every four voters are DA voters. Next year we have the local government elections and we have more municipalities to win and so this is a fight and we will fight it at a local level, provincial level and will eventually fight it at a national level. We have the cohesion and unity to do that."


James said whether he won or lost the leadership election he would join hands in promoting South Africa as a country for all people, regardless of race.
"If I win or lose it doesn't matter, once elections take place and a new leader takes over, I will be emphasising unity. I am determined to win and if I win I will be very inclusive, I will ensure that the unity of the party is the most important thing to pursue. If I lose I will stand by behind the new leader. We have to have a united party because we have a cause to fight - that cause is building a future for all South Africans, that's what matters, the cause is to have a real democracy and I will be part of a unified effort to get there."
Political analysts and party members say who ever takes over from Zille will have to work in a team if the DA hopes to become the governing party in a decade or so.



                                                       (Patricia De Lille)

But with only hours to go before the new leader is elected - it seems that at this stage the young Mmusi Maimane may have the edge on Wilmot James. He has received the open support of a number of top leaders within the DA - including the Mayor of Cape Town - Patricia De Lille - a former struggle activist and Pan Africanist who joined the DA a few years ago.
Most analysts say the DA needs a leader who will be able to draw the support of the majority African people if it has any hope of displacing the ruling ANC as the governing party of the country. - ends - Subry Govender