Friday, July 4, 2008


Again, I receive pleas for help on a regular basis here. My church decided not to house people in the building but to do personal home housing and only to our members first. But many churches opened their doors. And there was even a report (from Anna) of a church who’s pastor would not allow the harbored refugees to be released to go to the city “camps” because his church was a better housing facility. He would not release refugees to go anywhere that wasn’t better than his church facility. I like that.

To remind you, since attacks by poor Black South Africans on poor Black foreign national Africans on May 11th in a township called Alexandra part of Joburg, that violent conflagration has spread across the dry germinating seeds of discontent in the country to illuminate an implosive condition in South Africa. Violence even came to Cape Town (where I live) in our townships. When that happened, refugees or foreign nationals living outside the city all came in droves into the city to escape malcontented Black South Africans and to save their own lives and the lives of the children. So we’ve seen an influx of 10,000 people into the city, people who left their homes, their belongings, everything. They need food, shelter, clothing, and water.

Over the month of May we’ve lost about 56 or so lives due to the violence. Refugees have called me to help organize student-letter drives to the UN (tough when students are in exams). Or they people call for me to help give money or donate food or clothing. Or I am called to organize my church and mobilize them (you remember I mentioned this in part I). So the crisis is still not solved. Pretoria is not interested in getting the UN involved, but the mayor of Cape Town Helen Zille is. Helen is liked by many because she is a member of a type of white liberal party that is supposed to be concerned with racial situation and the inequality. Some see white liberalism as insincere or ineffective and condemn the party (the DA) as well as Helen Zille. She is not perfect and makes mistakes. Here’s a story from News24:

Manuel slams 'reckless' Zille

May 22 2008 07:04:16:340PM

DA leader Helen Zille's statement that foreigners are responsible for SA's drug problem could lead to more xenophobia, says the finance minister.

Cape Town - Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille's statement that foreigners were responsible for South Africa's drug problem could lead to more xenophobic attacks, said Finance Minister Trevor Manuel on Thursday.

"It's necessary for us to guard against labelling, all of us have a responsibility to guard against fanning the flames of violence," he said.

The Cape Argus on Thursday published a story quoting Zille saying the drug problem was one of the causes of the xenophobic attacks.

Zille said in an address to New Woodlands residents in Cape Town: "One of them is the extent of drug trade and, in many cases, it is not South Africans citizens who set up drug houses."

The DA leader had also attacked the Home Affairs Department's immigration policy, saying the department made it easier for drug dealers to enter the country.

"If you are a skilled person then the system says no to you, but if you do enter illegally and sell drugs then it is OK," she said.

She, however, told the community to reject violence.

Manuel said Zille's statements were "reckless" as they could easily incite people to attack foreigners.

Here is another press release on Zille and the CT situation. Normally I write my own analyses but I wanted you to see these two things.

Press Release

Zackie Achmat, TAC: +27-83-467-1152 (evenings)
Gregg Gonsalves, ARASA, +27-78-456-3848 (days)

Health and Human Rights Groups Condemn Cape Town Mayor Helen Zille for
Promotion of Internment Camps in Current Xenophobic Crisis
(Cape Town, South Africa, 27 May 2008)-the Treatment Action Campaign (TAC),
AIDS Law Project (ALP) and the AIDS and Rights Alliance for Southern Africa
(ARASA) jointly condemn Helen Zille, the Mayor of Cape Town, for her
continued insistence on setting up internment camps in remote locations
throughout the Cape Town Metro area to deal with the thousands of people
displaced by xenophobic violence and harassment over the past two weeks.

Based on sound principles of public health and human rights as well as
accepted procedures for the management of displaced persons, we are calling
for all individuals to be sheltered as close to where they originally
resided, so that they can be near their regular health facilities, schools
and places of employment. Furthermore, we believe that seeking local
solutions for displaced persons can foster voluntary reintegration into
communities, which exile to internment camps far from their original homes
will simply make more difficult. Additionally, filling up camps with
thousands of people in close proximity is a severe infectious disease risk
for diarrhea, tuberculosis, and other serious infection. Finally, setting
up a parallel system of public services in the internment camps, including
health and sanitation, is inefficient and will create further stress on
normal provision of these services around the city and the province.

We call on Cape Town Mayor Helen Zille and Western Cape Premier Ebrahim
Rasool to work together to ensure that displaced persons find shelter as
close to their original homes as possible, by opening all public facilities
under the jurisdiction of the city and the province to temporarily house
these individuals as the first step towards community reintegration. The
groups are also calling for additional resources to be made available to
promote reintegration of displaced persons and their access to essential
services as well as to protect their health, safety and well-being. If
these demands are not met TAC, ALP and ARASA will consider legal action to
ensure that the internment camps are shut down and their inhabitants
reintegrated into their local communities of origin in a timeous manner.

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