IMMIGRANTS GREET JOHANNESBURG MARCHERS

Business Day, 26 May 2008

PLEASE NOTE: Readers wishing to reproduce and reference this article
should contact the editors of the Business Day for permission


Ordinary Johannesburg residents and civil society took to the streets on Saturday in condemnation of the recent xenophobic attacks in Gauteng which have since spread to other provinces. Thousands of marchers were warmly received by the residents of Hillbrow, home to many African immigrants, as they marched through the streets on their way to the Gauteng legislature. The march, organised by a coalition between nongovernment organisations (NGO s), church groups and other immigration organisations, was a stand against xenophobia and violence and a protest against the government’s slow response to the matter. The official death toll from the xenophobic attacks in the Johannesburg region has climbed to 50, with 580 people arrested, Gauteng police spokesman Govindsamy Mariemuthoo said. Thandiwe Zulu, of the Black Sash, one of the NGO s organising the event, said it was important for everyone to make a united stand against the government’s lack of leadership on the problem. Public Service and Administration Minister Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi said it was important for everyone to reject the hate and violence behind the attacks. “We need to claim Johannesburg for all Africans,” she said. In the memorandum to Gauteng Premier Mbhazima Shilowa, the Coalition Against Xenophobia criticised the government’s immigration policies, which it said had done little to integrate immigrants into local society.