Reaction to King Zwelithini's #XenoImbizo

It is reported that over 6 000 people attended the anti-xenophobia imbizo hosted by King Goodwill Zwelithini at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on 20 April 2015.

The imbizo comes three weeks after the Zulu monarch made a speech that was seen by some to be causally linked to the violence targeted at foreign nationals in the country.

Cultural 'weapons' brought to the imbizo

702's John Robbie spoke about some of the concern around the presence of cultural accessories such as tribal spears and knobkerries at the imbizo.

The Dangerous Weapons Act, passed in 2013, is legislation that covers the use of weapons with criminal intent. Amichand Soman, Civil Secretariat for the Police responsible for drafting of legislation, told John Robbie that there are guidelines in the Act that help determine reasonable suspicion.

A dangerous weapon is defined in the Act as any object other than a firearm, capable of causing death or inflicting serious bodily harm, if used for an unlawful purpose.

Amichand Soman, director of the Civilian Secretariat for Police

According to Soman, some of the guidelines include:

  • The time and place that the weapon is being carried.
  • If the behavior person(s) carrying the weapon seems at all threatening.
  • The manner in which the weapon is displayed.
  • The greater context of the gathering and whether other illegal activities are potentially involved.

He advised that South African Police Service officers have been trained to identify these factors and that the Act makes exceptions for certain religious, cultural and recreational events.

It was also reported that some attendees at the imbizo were chanting songs with xenophobic sentiments, whilst others allegedly displayed disregard for religious leaders who stepped to the podium.

(Also read our article: Xenophobia: How South Africa got here)

The King's speech

In his speech at the imbizo, which was given in isiZulu, the king called the attacks on foreigners vile and wrong.

Zwelithini defended his previous address; saying that he wants all media to release his entire speech as he still feels that his words were distorted and the full picture was not accurately depicted. He is also reported as saying that the country must fight the 'third force' behind the xenophobic violence.

In light of allegations that Zwelithini may have incited the violence targeted at foreign nationals, many government officials, including Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi, have defended the King's speech, claiming that his comments were taken out of context.

The role of the media

The Zulu king called on the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to investigate the media if need be.

Cartoon by Dr Jack & Curtis. Orginally published on EWN on 21 April 2015.

The media has been blamed by some for perpetuating violence through the photographs it has published during the xenophobic attacks, and by allegedly misinterpreting the king's statement. Director at Media Monitoring Africa William Bird says that public figures should be held accountable for the things that they say and that there is a need for an informed debate around the value of editorial decisions made by some media organisations.

Watch the full stream of anti-xenophobia imbizo. Credit: eNCA

African National Congress (ANC) stakeholders host forum against xenophobia

Earlier on the day, the ANC hosted a forum against xenophobic violence with its stakeholders at their headquarters in Johannesburg's Chief Albert Luthuli House.

Watch the full stream of anti-xenophobia forum. Credit: SABC News

Receive the latest news coverage on xenophobic violence in South Africa by visiting Eyewitness News' live blog.

(Also read our article: Xenophobia: How South Africa got here)

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