Elinor Sisulu, head of Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition's South African office, being interviwed by Sunday Independent at her office in Johannesburg. 231208 Pic:Boxer Ngwenya

Durban - Elinor Sisulu, the wife of former National Assembly speak Max Sisulu, lashed out at President Jacob Zuma and Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe for ignoring the “s*** of xenophobia” that had been taking place while their bilateral talks in Pretoria were going on.

Sisulu was speaking at a press conference on xenophobia hosted by the African Diaspora Forum in Johannesburg on Thursday.

Foreigners have been attacked in Durban and surrounding areas over the past week, with at least four people killed and many injured. Some families have been displaced by attacks and the looting of foreign-owned shops.

Earlier this year, foreigners were targeted in Gauteng.

Sisulu said it was probable that the issue of xenophobia was not on Zuma’s and Mugabe’s agenda.

“They sit on a table and there’s lumps of s*** on the table. The s*** is xenophobia and it’s stinking there, but they will look elsewhere to put the blame and say kukhona okunukayo (something stinks), open the windows. They don’t deal with the s***. They talk about things which have no relevance to the people,” News24 quoted Sisulu as saying.

She also called on leaders to be careful and responsible about how they spoke about migrants in the country.

“When people beat each other up because of what you said, you say: ‘Oh, no, I was quoted out of context.’”

Although King Goodwill Zwelithini has maintained that his speech about the deporting of foreigners was misinterpreted, attackers and supporters of the attacks said they were acting upon his remarks.

The conference Sisulu addressed was attended by the SA Human Rights Commission, which is investigating the king’s speech in response to a complaint to the commission.

Also at the conference were the king of the Batlokoa tribe, the Nigerian Traders Union, human rights activists and foreigners.

The Mercury