African-Indian ‘racial tension’ in SA blamed on lack of leadership
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DURBAN - THE African Indian Unity Initiative, funded by philanthropist Vivian Reddy, has hit the ground running in an effort to quell racial tensions and looting within 48 hours in KwaZulu-Natal.
The initiative touched base with community leaders on grass-root levels on Tuesday after the Free Zuma campaign turned criminal and led to mass looting of warehouses and businesses.
Overnight fear gripped communities that their homes would be next. This resulted in the mobilisation of street watches. In Phoenix and Chatsworth, racial tensions arose between African and Indian communities. Racial tension was also fuelled on social media with a tweet stating “Indians Must Fall”.
Reddy was certain the objectives of the group would be met using all resources to bring peace, unity and stability in the country. The initiative urged street watches not to become vigilante groups.
Black Business Federation in South Africa (BFFSA) spokesperson Robert Ndlela called for an immediate end to the anarchy and the beginning of solidarity from leaders of different backgrounds and ethnic groups.
“We will make certain African and Indian leaders come together and iron out issues. The group were concerned about food supplies and fuel sources being depleted. Services like domestic refuse collection and infrastructure repairs will be seized.
“We ask ourselves why these racial groups are fighting. We need to reunify communities. Let it be the beginning of a united front,” Ndlela said.
BFFSA chairperson Malusi Zondi said there was a vacuum in the government and the country under President Cyril Ramaphosa was leaderless.
“They are leading us from behind. We cannot lead on social media. We have to be on the ground. We don’t want racial tension. We have begun discussions with residents in Inanda and Phoenix. Enough is enough. We should fight against the revenue management system’s high utility bills,” Zondi said.
African Democratic Change chief activist Visvin Reddy said many residents have not slept because of fear that their homes would be looted. Reddy said Indian communities were buffer zones for former white areas and also have informal settlements. Reddy said the organised and strategic looting and protests was taken over by criminals. He advised the group to join forces with the Radical Economic Transformation forces to campaign for former president Jacob Zuma’s freedom.
“People are looking for direction and protection in the absence of leadership in the country,” he said.
Phoenix community leaders Sham Maharaj, Marlon Naidoo and Reverend Leslie Munsamy said looters looked for alternative routes through the communities to reach shopping malls. This resulted in clashes between the two.
Munsamy said they restored peace between Bhambayi and Phoenix residents on Monday night.
Naidoo said Phoenix was multiracial and denied it was Indian on African violence. He said there were thugs and hooligans in both racial groups causing mayhem in Phoenix.
“People are being misled. Looters are not coming into residential areas.
“Africans have lived next to Indians for 45 years in Phoenix and walk through the area on a daily basis without being attacked,“ Naidoo said.
Sanjith Hanuman said comments made by a few do not represent that ethnic group.
Former eThekwini deputy mayor Logie Naidoo said businesses have lost tremendously and were yet to tally the costs.