JOHANNESBURG: Threats against the Indian-origin
community in South Africa do exist after the recent violence, but the
government is doing everything in its power to counter it, Mahatma Gandhi’s
granddaughter Ela Gandhi said.
against the incarceration of former president Jacob Zuma on July 7 rapidly
devolved into orgies of looting and arson in the two provinces of KwaZulu-Natal
been sentenced for contempt of court after he repeatedly refused to testify at
the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture, where several witnesses have
implicated him in corruption.
media reports on the violence which wracked the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and
Gauteng last month said that Indian-origin South Africans bore the brunt of the
attack, some even stating that ‘many” of the 330 people killed as looters went
on the rampage were of Indian origin.
is not quite correct. Certainly, there were a number of Indian-owned businesses
that were looted or burnt down, but they were among the scores more, many owned
by national chain-store groups, that were raided by the looters. There were
also no direct attacks on any Indians that we are aware of.”
far as deaths go, we believe that only two or three of those killed were of
Indian-origin,” Ela Gandhi said.
I said was that terrorist attacks by anyone anywhere in the world could occur
at any time, not just against any particular community in South Africa only,”
Ela Gandhi said, reacting to some reports in the Indian media quoting her as
saying that attacks could happen anytime anywhere.
can’t deny that such threats do exist, especially advocated by some people on
social media, but our government is doing all in its power to address
this,” she said.
it needs to be explained that the threats are largely in the social media and
mostly we have found that they are based on fake news. In reality we have come
together with many African community members in the past weeks who also want
peace and security.
happened in a few instances where Indian vigilantes attacked some African
individuals on the basis of their race cannot be condoned. But the whole
community cannot be condemned for the follies of a few,” she said.
community leader, who heads up the Gandhi Development Trust based at the
Phoenix Settlement started by Mahatma Gandhi during his tenure in South Africa,
also commented on reports that there was an increased number of applications by
South Africans of Indian origin for OCI cards.
Indian missions would be in a better position to answer that, but we know that
there are people who have already migrated to places such as Australia who have
been trying to get their relatives in South Africa to join them. But the recent
violence should not be used as an excuse for that.
should also consider that hundreds of thousands of fourth and fifth generation
Indians who consider themselves to be South African citizens are still here,
many of them doing their part to assist in reconciliation and rehabilitation
projects after the violence,” Ela Gandhi said.
at the Indian consulates in Durban and Johannesburg confirmed that there has
been an increase in both applications for and enquiries about the OCI card.
Gandhi herself, together with other community leaders in the Indian and black
communities, is involved in various projects aimed at reconciliation.
calls by some people, including political leaders, which get circulated widely
on social media, unfortunately do not help,” Ela Gandhi said, in an
apparent reference to a statement by the leader of the Economic Freedom
Fighters (EFF), Julius Malema, who has often made anti-Indian remarks.
those Indians did there in Phoenix is unforgettable, we will never forgive them
for what they did to our people. And those are Indian criminals, they must be
called exactly that. We are not going to make any apology about that,”
Malema had said in an interview with radio station Khaya FM after the recent
were 22 Black people killed in Phoenix, allegedly at the hands of Indian
vigilantes, many of whom are now facing murder and manslaughter charges.
the riots around the largely Indian area of Phoenix, which is surrounded by
three Black informal settlements, the Phoenix Settlement remained untouched as
looters raided and burnt down neighbouring businesses.
Mahomed Saleem Khan (SC) cautioned Malema in a widely circulated social media
post that if he persisted with his anti-Indian remarks, he would institute
legal proceedings against him.
have honoured South Africa and the African continent with significant, material
and continuing contributions towards, inter alia, commercial and cultural development,”
Indian-origin comedian and social commentator Karou Charou, whose real name is
Mahdevan Moodley, also made an online plea to the Black community to ignore the
racist remarks on social media and work together with the Indian community to
majority of people from the informal settlements (around Phoenix) are employed
by Indian businesses and households. The Indian community around these informal
settlements drives this mini-economy and that is an undeniable fact, whether
you like it or not,” Moodley said.