File picture: Pexels
File picture: Pexels

LOOK: Stabbed in the back for being a foreigner

By Shannon Ebrahim Time of article published Apr 3, 2019

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The multiple-stabbing in the back of Malawian national Edward Kanyemba on Saturday in Diepsloot, north of Joburg, was a message to the country that crime targeted specifically at foreign nationals was xenophobia. 

Kanyemba merely asked two men sitting on a street corner for directions as he was unfamiliar with the area. The Mamelodi resident was visiting his niece. 

The men refused to answer, but as Kanyemba turned away to cross the street they went after him, stabbing him multiple times in the lower back near the spinal cord and also in the upper arm. They never stole his money nor any of his possessions he had in the bag he was carrying. 

The vicious stabbing was a hate crime targeted at someone who clearly did not come from South Africa. “It was a xenophobic attack as the men I approached could hear from my accent that I was not from South Africa and they were looking at each other strangely,” Kanyemba said. 

MALAWIAN Edward Kanyemba, who lives in Mamelodi, was attacked in an apparent xenophobic incident in Diepsloot at the weekend.

“All I heard was people screaming on the other side of the road, and as I looked down I saw they had stabbed me and blood was pouring out all over the road. 

“No one came to my rescue, and this happened very close to the Diepsloot police station,” Kanyemba told Independent Media. 

“An ambulance came and took me to Tembisa hospital. Once I regained consciousness, I told a SAPS officer at the hospital what had happened, hoping he would take a statement from me, but he just told me he couldn’t help as he only works in Tembisa, not Diepsloot,” Kanyemba said.

Tembisa hospital discharged Kanyemba 48 hours after his admission, saying they needed to make space for other emergency cases. He was discharged with only painkillers and antibiotics and forced to return by public transport to Mamelodi with no access to medical care for his wounds. 

Independent Media informed Minister of Police Bheki Cele’s office of the incident and of the fact that no statement was taken by the police, and was told that the provincial police commissioner would be alerted. Despite having provided the minister’s office with Kanyemba’s contact details, by Monday afternoon Kanyemba had still not been contacted by the police for a statement. 

“This is a clear example of hatred against a foreign national, and cannot be categorised as criminality. It is obviously xenophobia,” Fulu Sinthumule, the director of the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) said. 

“When we have seen attacks against foreign nationals in 2008, 2015, and currently, we hear political leaders say it is criminal elements, but these attacks are pure hatred, and it is time they are recognised as xenophobic,” Sinthumule said. 

“It is time to make the National Action Plan Against Racial Intolerance and Xenophobia, which was launched last week by Deputy 
Minister of Justice John Jeffrey, a living document.”

The National Action Plan was launched on March 25, but a day later the xenophobic attacks against Malawian nationals broke out in Durban. 
Pope Francis has added his voice, issuing a plea for host countries to treat migrants and refugees with humanity.

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