Activists and various organisations came out in numbers to march against the recent xenophobic attacks and also handed in a memorandum at the Hillbrow police station which called for the home affairs minister to step down.
The memorandum was first handed to the police at Hillbrow and later at the Johannesburg Central police station, where Nhlanhla Lux, the leader of Operation Dudula, is currently being held.
The activists marched, sang struggle songs and held placards. They called for an end to Operation Dudula, an anti-foreigner movement which seeks to get rid of foreigners who came to look for employment in South Africa.
During the march, a member of the African Diaspora Workers Network, Janet Munakamwe, read out the memorandum which called for Aaron Motsoaledi [home affairs minister] to step down.
Munakamwe said: “The minister of home affairs must resign today. He has failed many, not only migrants, but also locals, so many do not have documents.”
Furthermore, the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department was slammed for cancelling the first anti-xenophobia march, organised by Kopanang Africa Against Xenophobia (KAAX) on Human Rights Day.
Members of the activist movement against xenophobic attacks that have been carried out by several communities in recent weeks took the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) to court over its decision to prohibit the demonstration.
The march was initially scheduled for human rights day, but the JMPD stopped it due to safety concerns.
Operation Dudula has been removing migrants in and around parts of Joburg, Alexandra and Soweto.
The march started at empire road in Parktown and moved to the hilbrow police station and then the Johannesburg central police station.
The Kopanang movement handed over a memorandum at the Hilbrow police station calling for the disbandment of Operation Dudula saying it is a rouge misinformed organisation.
A Kopanang movement member said: â€œOperation Dudula itself is a group of people who are misinformed of the problems at hand. We have got real problems that are affecting the black communities and for Operation Dudula to start pointing fingers at migrants, to me that is taboo.â€
Meanwhile some Operation Dudula movement members were calling for the release of their leader Nhlahla Lux Dlamini saying heâ€™s wrongfully accused.
Operation Dudula members were protesting against Lux’s arrest.
JMPD and SAPS officials were vigilant to ensure that Operation Dudula protesters and the anti-xenophobia march did not run into each other.
According to JMPD spokesperson Xolani Fihla, “the Kopanang Africa Against Xenophobia group diverted from the original planned route which was going to see them handing over the memorandum at Commissioner Street”.
JMPD suspects that the reason for diverting was to confront the Operation Dudula members.
“We suspect that they changed their route knowing that members of Operation Dudula were gathered at the Johannesburg Central SAPS entrance at Commissioner Street, the Kopanang Africa Against Xenophobia March went well with no disturbances until they dispersed at Maryfitz Gerald Square,” Fihla added.
KAAX’s spokesperson, Ferron Pedro, said she was hurt when she saw Operation Dudula members marching in support of hatred and injustice on the other side of the Johannesburg Central police station.
“I saw our brothers and sisters marching for hatred, marching for injustice, marching against the same things that we know are keeping us down. Foreigners are not stealing our jobs, Clover is stealing our jobs, MassMart is stealing our jobs… it is the small 1% in South Africa that owns 50% of the bulk. These people do not live in Alexandra, but they live in Sandton,” Pedro said.
Dube Austin, a member of Restorative Justice, had an encounter with Operation Dudula members.
He alleges they confronted him for taking pictures and smashed his phone.
“Two ladies I know asked me to take picture of the Dudula members. Before I even took the pictures, I realised that these guys were going to give us a problem and I stopped, leaving the ladies behind.
“The Dudula people came straight to me and asked me what do I want here, and why am I taking photos, I told them that I am here just like everyone and I handed them my phone to check for the pictures… that is when one of them took it and just smashed it on the ground,” Austin said.
He appealed to KAAX’s convener, Julekha Latib, to accompany him to open a case because he was too scared.