Controversial anti-immigrant group Operation Dudula is preparing to launch a Western Cape branch on Saturday, fuelling concerns about the group’s xenophobic sentiments that have already taken root in other parts of the country.
The group says it is taking back jobs from immigrants to help address the high unemployment rate among South Africans.
The launch will take place at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Zonnebloem Parking, at 10am.
The group is a splinter group of the social media campaign Put South Africans First movement.
The movement is led by 36-year-old Nhlanhla “Lux” Dlamini, born Nhlanhla Paballo Mohlauli.
Labelled by some as “xenophobic and dangerous”, it was founded in Soweto a few months after the July riots that erupted when former president Jacob Zuma was sentenced to jail for contempt of court.
Dlamini’s popularity rocketed when he led hundreds of his followers through Soweto on June 16 – the 45th anniversary of the Soweto Uprising.
They targeted suspected drug traffickers and businesses that allegedly hired illegal foreigners in order to pay them lower wages than legally required.
The Western Cape provincial co-ordinator, Jonathan Baju, said the launch was inspired by the lack of employment opportunities for South Africans and an increase in drug abuse in the townships.
“There are a lot of illegal immigrants here in Cape Town, in Khayelitsha, Nyanga, Philippi. You will realise that almost all South Africans are not working. Some of them look as if they are mad because of the drugs,” he said.
“When you see known drug dealers you will realise that many of them are foreign nationals,” he said.
“When you look at the job market (foreign nationals are) everywhere, in each and every industry. They are too much. It is us South Africans now that look like foreigners – in our own country. We should stand and protect our country,” he said.
Thabiso Chere, chairperson of the Tembisa branch, confirmed the launch and said they were in the process of expanding the organisation even further.
“We are leaving no stone unturned. Western Cape is part of South Africa, therefore we are launching a branch there as well. The foreign (nationals) need to go back and fix their countries,” he said.
Previously, President Cyril Ramaphosa officially condemned the group following weeks of public pressure from civil society organisations amid fears of a fresh escalation of xenophobic violence. He described it as a “vigilante-type” that needs “to be stopped”.