[Source: IOL by Bongani Hans.]
A tit-for-tat xenophobic war could erupt across sub-Saharan Africa if the government acted on the wishes of King Goodwill Zwelithini and deported foreigners living and working in South Africa.
On Tuesday, at a memorial service in Durban for Noel Beya Dinshistia, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, his countrymen warned that xenophobia in South Africa placed South Africans living in other African countries at risk.
Dinshistia was set alight and killed after he took a job as a bouncer at a local nightclub.
Justine Michael, who was among the hundreds of people, mostly Congolese, who attended the service held at the Gospel for All Nations Ministry at the Point, said xenophobia was making life in South African untenable.
“If the king is serious that foreigners must go back to their countries, they (the government) must be prepared to collect all South Africans from our country.
“There are South Africans who own mining companies in Lubumbashi. Others are working for companies such as Vodacom there, and live peacefully while we are suffering here in this country. But, if we are chased out of this country, we will have to do the same with South Africans back home.”
The president of the Durban branch of the Association of the Congolese, Shako Kuminga, asked The Mercury not to talk to people at the service for fear they would criticise the government or offend South Africans. “We don’t want trouble,” he said.
However, Michael and his friend John Gimbi Colose insisted on speaking about the prejudice they faced daily.
“Here in Durban foreigners are no longer employed as security guards, car guards and bouncers. Whenever we look for jobs we are told that such jobs are reserved for South Africans. As a result, many foreigners are now out of work.
Colose said when he was at a child in Kinshasa his teachers would ensure every morning that pupils prayed for Nelson Mandela’s release from prison.
“Today here in South Africa, Africans live peacefully with whites, Indians and Chinese, but they cannot live sideby side with their African brothers and sisters.”
Papa Manaunga Vangu told the mourners that the Congolese immigrants were preparing to march to the Durban Central police station to demand protection from xenophobic attacks.
At the service the murdered man was described as peace-loving.
He arrived in Durban in 2006.
His relative Dominique Kabinda said Dinshistia had four siblings.
“He always wanted to be great. We use to call him Tough because he was strong.
His friend, Paul Embete, said Dinshistia had slanned to return home to work at Kinshasa Airport and coach a soccer team in his village.
His coffin was escorted to King Shaka International Airport by the metro police.
He is to be buried near his home in the DRC.
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