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Operation Dudula: Migrants trading at shops fear outbreak of xenophobia, lament unprovoked attacks as threat still looms large

Some of the stalls that were abandoned at the Workshop Shopping Centre in anticipation of the launch of ’Operation Dudula’ in Durban. Picture: Thobani Dlamini.

Some of the stalls that were abandoned at the Workshop Shopping Centre in anticipation of the launch of ’Operation Dudula’ in Durban. Picture: Thobani Dlamini.

Published Mar 28, 2022


DURBAN - Shop owners along the Workshop Shopping Centre flea market and other businesses in the city centre breathed a sigh of relief as the Operation Dudula launch was cancelled in Durban over security concerns.

While keeping high visibility, the police warned the movement and its organisers to stay far off the vicinity of the shopping complex.

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As the news of the cancellation spread across social media, shop owners made their way to continue business as usual on Sunday.

Zimbabwean immigrant Blessed Chitepo, who has been trading in Durban for two decades, said the people have learnt to live with threats of unprovoked violence from locals.

“Living in South Africa was a huge blessing for me and my family as we were virtually without food back home. But, at the same time, it has been a curse.

“I was here when the first xenophobic attacks happened, and have been here when the others happened. We have learnt to live with the threat.

“Every time it comes with different people or groups, which means we have to contend with something that we are unsure who it comes with. And every time we have to reason with the people to find out the real issues,” he said.

A Malawian man, who spoke on condition that he remains anonymous, said he had lawfully entered the country and asked for asylum, but realised that xenophobia was indiscriminate when it comes to the violence.

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“I have been doing everything according to the law with regards to my living here in South Africa. All that does not matter to xenophobic people who attack us here in this country,” said the man.

Operation Dudula’s national chairperson, Dan Radebe, said the cancellation of the operation was a unanimous decision taken between the organisers and the SAPS.

“The launch of Dudula in Durban was meant for the city alone, but upon meeting with the police and having intense discussions, it was clear, the march would have been more than what was expected. So we reached an amicable agreement that it should be postponed to a later date.

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“This decision was measured in response to fear of property damage and the destabilisation of the economy as a result of the march; we do not want that to happen,” said Radebe.

Weighing in on the activities of Operation Dudula, political analyst and senior lecturer at Unisa, Dr Metji Makgoba, said that the movement was as a result of poor political leadership and failure to enforce immigration laws.

Makgoba said Operation Dudula was not confronting white capital but opted to focus on the “secondary issues”.

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“The government has failed to manage the influx of people into the country. However, the anger must be directed to those who own the means of production in the country. Because those people who come into the country are employed by white capital.

“But Operation Dudula has a logical argument when it says that since we operate in the concept of the nation-state, then those who come into the country must be documented and enter the country legally.”

Makgoba was of the view that the challenges facing the country could not be addressed by attacking black people from other countries.

“Operation Dudula is operating within the constraints of white supremacy and capitalism that continue to shape the idea of the nation-state and its migration laws.

“In South Africa, the nation-state is the construction of white supremacy in which its major systems and institutions intend to benefit white people who facilitate white domination,” said Makgoba.

Professor Tumi Senokoane from Unisa said that he believed that Operation Dudula had a unique contribution in as far as fighting for the rights of South Africans, and also urged both Operation Dudula and the EFF to find meaningful ways of emancipating black Africans.

He stated that while the EFF was contributing in terms of the emancipation of blacks and the working class, Operation Dudula was confronting drug cartels.

“Both fights are for the benefit of the citizens yet their ideologies are different, but the diversity of approach must be celebrated as both seem to have the interests of the people at heart.”

The EFF and Operation Dudula have been at loggerheads with each other. Operation Dudula has been calling for the removal of undocumented foreigners in the country.

The red berets on the other hand, have been advocating for the removal of borders and the free movement of Africans in the continent.

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