IFP president emeritus Mangosuthu Buthelezi on Sunday battled to quell tensions in Johannesburg as he spoke out against xenophobic violence. Sections of the crowd at the gathering in Jeppestown walked out as he addressed them.
Buthelezi delivered his speech despite the disruption. According to a prepared speech, the veteran politician told them: “Looting and destruction of property is a crime. Full stop. Assault is always wrong.”
In contrast to the message he was delivering, protesters from various hostels in eastern Johannesburg marched along Jules Street earlier on Sunday. Carrying weapons, including knobkerries, the men sang: “Foreigners must go back to where they came from”. During the gathering in Jeppestown, Buthelezi begged the crowd to calm down, saying the xenophobic attacks had already set South Africa on a path to isolation.
“I’m not here to judge but to mediate,” said Buthelezi. Throughout his speech, a portion of the crowd kept shouting at him. Hammering sticks on the fence, the crowd walked around the park where Buthelezi was speaking and even fired gunshots in the air.
After walking around the park, the group returned to the venue and began shouting that police minister Bheki Cele must address them. Cele was not at the venue despite being the one who announced the gathering earlier in the week. Hostel headmen (izinduna) tried several times to call the angry crowd to order.
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