South Africa: Anti-Migrant Demonstrations Turn Violent in Alexandra

Immigrant traders outside Jabulani Mall say they are working in fear, following recent attacks in Johannesburg (file photo).
7 March 2022

Cape Town — Clashes have erupted in Alexandra between South Africans and migrants. The violence trended under the #OperationDudula hashtag, referring to the Operation Dudula group - consisting mainly of Soweto residents - who, along with the Put South Africa First movement, also took to the streets weeks ago in multiple demonstrations protesting the presence of foreign nationals and accusing them of various crimes.

SABC reporter Criselda Lewis tweeted the photo of a man bleeding profusely from the head after being beaten. There are several images of men carrying bricks during the attacks, which have forced the shops of migrants to be closed for the day.

Operation Dudula says they want illegal foreign nationals to leave the country as they blame them for occupying jobs that they say should be held by South Africans, Bheki Simelane wrote for the Daily Maverick. The group has repeatedly said that many young South Africans have qualifications but turned to drugs and alcohol because they cannot find work. The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa believes that Operation Dudula was orchestrated by some political parties under the misguided pretext of protecting employment for vulnerable South Africans, GroundUp reported.

During a march in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, in February,  the group was dispersed by police using tear gas, rubber bullets and stun grenades. The police said the group had not sought permission for the march and the group vowed to return after securing permission to march a week later. The subsequent demonstration saw hundreds of members march through the streets of Hillbrow, monitored by a strong police contingent. The march followed a brief assembly at a park in Berea that was addressed by some of the leaders.

"We warn those who are sourcing votes using our name. We will not be deterred by these people. We need to be vigilant of people who want to sabotage our operation," Operation Dudula chairperson Peter Dimba said.

Operation Dudula's motives also sparked the creation of a counter-movement called Kopanang Africa Against Xenophobia. This group was also formed in response to ongoing attacks on immigrants and plans to lead a march on Human Rights Day, 21 March, through the streets of Hillbrow to raise awareness of attacks on immigrants. They plan to hand a memorandum to Gauteng Premier David Makhura's office.

There were several responses to the protest and attacks in Alexandra today, some of whom have joined the call for "foreigners" to leave South Africa:

"We are not going anywhere. We are here to work." These are the words of some of the evicted street vendors at Pan Africa Mall in Alexandra on Monday. #JobSeekersSA #foreigners #OperationDudula -  @EversonLuhanga

Get the coalition government in 2024 that align with #PutSouthAfricansFirst @OnsBaizaNieand #OperationDudula's vision and the influx of foreign nationals into South Africa will soon be a history. - @Malavi_Mapimele

Why are foreigners going after our railway infrastructure? Because a working railway network is the backbone of any economy. They're here to destroy our country and economy. This case should be treated as terrorism! We demand secure borders #PutSouthAfricansFirst #OperationDudula - @Lanches59287740 in reference to this tweet.

Ziyalila eAlexandra right now. Foreigners have been complaining about #OperationDudula. They are being swept away by patriots who have been warning them for the longest time now. We are not budging, we want these foreigners gone as a matter of urgency. Keyboard warriors they said - @AthiBam3

This is bound to happen, as long as vigilantism and anarchy by #OperationDudula continues, private citizens have no place taking over from law enforcement agencies. - @bmakwezva

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