Search

 

Cablegate: Xenophobic Violence Continues to Spread

VZCZCXRO0676
RR RUEHBZ RUEHDU RUEHJO RUEHMR RUEHRN
DE RUEHSA #1088/01 1430923
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 220923Z MAY 08
FM AMEMBASSY PRETORIA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4527
INFO RUCNSAD/SOUTHERN AF DEVELOPMENT COMMUNITY COLLECTIVE
RUEHTN/AMCONSUL CAPE TOWN 5621
RUEHDU/AMCONSUL DURBAN 9837
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 PRETORIA 001088

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM PREF SOCI ASEC CACS SF
SUBJECT: XENOPHOBIC VIOLENCE CONTINUES TO SPREAD

REF: PRETORIA 1061

PRETORIA 00001088 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Deadly xenophobic and inter-ethnic
violence continued in Gauteng province on the night of 20 May
and into the early morning hours, with more people seeking
shelter at police stations, churches, and community shelters.
Violence also has spread to Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, though
on a much more limited scale. Government officials have
strongly condemned the violence, but continue to intimate
that "outside forces" are to blame and that South Africans
are being used as pawns by those who want to destablize South
Africa because they are jealous of its success. In addition
to outside forces, some ANC government officials have blamed
the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) for fomenting unrest.
Despite a joint national declaration that the ANC and IFP
would work together to stop the violence, ANC leaders in
KwaZulu-Natal continue to blame the IFP. END SUMMARY.

------------------------------
VIOLENCE GOES INTO SECOND WEEK
------------------------------

2. (SBU) Deadly xenophobic and inter-ethnic violence
continues to flare up in Gauteng province and is now being
reported in KwaZulu-Natal province. The official death toll
varies from 22 to mid-30s, and though the number of displaced
is hard to quantify, most press articles are quoting around
10,000. Alongside photos of the victims in every major
newspaper, there are also numerous photos of unrepentant
mobsters on rampages, all smiling, all armed, with some
groups including children obviously under the age of 10.
Gauteng Premier Sam Shilowa on 20 May admitted that the
violence has an ethnic and criminal dimension, in addition to
xenophobia.

3. (SBU) The spokesperson for the provincial government of
Gauteng said publicly on 21 May that the violence has
subsided, adding the "situation is under control." This
statement was contradicted by NEC member Winnie Mandela's
public warning that same morning to any foreigners who take
the commuter trains, that the ANC had information foreigners
would be targeted, and by fresh press reports about shops
being looted on 21 May in Johannesburg. Refugees also
continue to seek shelter at police stations, churches or
mosques, and community shelters. (COMMENT: Press reports note
that much of the violence is being perpetrated in the middle
of the night, so even if violence subsided during the day, it
could easily flare up again on the evening of 21 May. END
COMMENT)

4. (SBU) Local press reports in Durban also note that at
least 100 hostel dwellers, armed with stones and bottles,
converged on Durban's Umbilo suburb on 21 May, threatening
foreigners and asking them to leave the province. Umbilo
police spokesperson Captain John Lazarus said the mob had
been intimidating Nigerians since late 20 May. The Mercury
newspaper reported that at least six foreigners have been
injured, one with an ax, though police have denied anyone has
been injured. The US Consulate in Durban also notes that
some shops closed down early in the CBD today, though the
reasons seem to include both fears of xenophobic attacks as
well as a police sweep on informal traders. No incidents
have been reported in Cape Town, but the city of Cape Town
has identified potential flashpoints and has additional
police on standby.

----------------------------------
GOVERNMENT RESPONSE STILL HESITANT
----------------------------------

5. (SBU) Both President Mbeki and ANC President Jacob Zuma
Q5. (SBU) Both President Mbeki and ANC President Jacob Zuma
continue to speak out, condemning the violence. Minister of
Safety and Security Charles Nqakula declared that
"specialized units" would be deployed (no additional
information was given). Robert McBride, the infamous
Ekurhuleni metro police chief who is facing drunk driving and
other charges was taken off suspended leave and put back on
the force. The government has dismissed suggestions that the
military come out to quell any further violence. Thus far,
almost 300 people are reported to have been arrested in
relation to the unrest in Gauteng.

6. (SBU) As of 21 May, Gauteng Premier Sam Shilowa cautioned
the SAG against declaring a state of emergency, saying the
decision should not be a political one, nor should it be
taken in haste. He also said that declaring a state of
emergency could become a "habit" and that everytime there was

PRETORIA 00001088 002.2 OF 002


a crisis, it would be declared an emergency. He then
undermined his own argument by adding that, "a state of
emergency implies, as the Constitution states, that the life
of the nation is threatened by war, invasion, or general
insurrection, disorder, natural disaster, or other public
emergency."

--------------------------------
BLAME GAME TAKES POLITICAL SLANT
--------------------------------

7. (SBU) The South Africa Institute for Race Relations issued
a blistering public attack on President Mbeki on 21 May,
saying the violence was a direct response to his government's
policy failures. SAIRR blamed "poor and ineffective
governance" for creating "a perfect storm of lawlessness,
poverty, and unfulfilled expectations that has now erupted
into violence." The SAG, for its part, is deflecting any
criticism by using the common refrain that outsiders jealous
of South Africa's success are directly involved in fomenting
the violence to destablize South Africa. Lorna Daniels,
spokesperson for the National Intelligence Agency (NIA),
confirmed on 20 May that NIA is investigating the root causes
of the xenophobic violence. Both Gauteng Minister of Sport
Barbara Creecy and provincial ANC spokesperson in Gauteng
Nkenke Kekana also publicly declared that there was a "hidden
hand" in the violence aiming at destabilizing South Africa's
economic hub. In public comments on 20 May, Deputy Foreign
Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad rejected assertions that
xenophobia is the real cause of the violence, saying the
current attacks remind him of the politically-motivated
violence that erupted shortly before the 1994 election.

8. (SBU) At the onset of the violence, the ANC publicly
blamed rival Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) members for
instigating the attacks in Alexandra. On 20 May, IFP and ANC
issued a joint national statement condemning the violence and
vowing to work together. However, not everyone seems to have
been briefed on the joint declaration. KZN Community Safety
Minister Bheki Cele said the violence was political, blaming
IFP members for orchestrating it. IFP immediately issued
another statement, saying it is (again) disturbed the ANC is
using the events to score political points.
BOST

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 
 
  • Pacific.Scoop
  • Cafe Pacific
  • PMC