After the recent violence, there is indeed a threat to the Indian community in South Africa, but the government is doing everything it can to counter this, Mahatma Gandhi’s granddaughter Ela Gandhi said Monday.
Protests against the detention of former President Jacob Zuma on July 7 quickly turned into orgies of looting and arson in the two provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.
Zuma has been convicted of contempt of court after repeatedly refusing to testify at the State Imprisonment Commission of Inquiry, where several witnesses have accused him of corruption.
Some media reports of the violence that ravaged KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces last month said South Africans of Indian descent were the victims of the attack, some even claiming that “many” of the 330 people killed when looters attacked the rampage. were of Indian descent.
“This is not entirely correct. Sure, there were a number of Indian businesses that were looted or burned, but they were among the dozens more, many of which were owned by national chain stores, that were raided by the looters. attacks on Indians we know.”
“As for the dead, we believe that only two or three of the dead were of Indian descent,” said Ela Gandhi.
“What I said was that terrorist attacks by anyone anywhere in the world can happen at any time, not just against a particular community in South Africa,” said Ela Gandhi, responding to some reports in the Indian media where she quoted her as saying that attacks can happen anytime and anywhere.
“We cannot deny that such threats exist, especially advocated by some people on social media, but our government is doing everything it can to address this,” she said.
“Perhaps it should be explained that the threats are largely in the social media and we have mostly discovered that they are based on fake news. In reality, in recent weeks we have come together with many African community members who also want peace and security.
“What happened in a few cases where Indian vigilantes attacked some African individuals based on their race cannot be tolerated. But the whole community cannot be condemned for the follies of a few,” she said.
The community leader, who heads the Gandhi Development Trust in the Phoenix Settlement, founded by Mahatma Gandhi during his tenure in South Africa, also noted an increasing number of applications from South Africans of Indian descent for OCI Cards.
“The Indian missions could better answer that, but we know that there are people who have already emigrated to places like Australia and who have tried to persuade their relatives in South Africa to join them. But the recent violence wouldn’t use that as an excuse.
“We should also remember that hundreds of thousands of fourth- and fifth-generation Indians who consider themselves South African citizens are still here, and many of them are doing their part to help with reconciliation and rehabilitation projects after the violence,” said Ela Gandhi.
Officials from the Indian consulates in Durban and Johannesburg confirmed that there has been an increase in both applications for and questions about the OCI card.
Ela Gandhi herself, along with other community leaders in the Indian and black communities, is involved in several projects aimed at reconciliation.
“Unfortunately, inciting calls from some people, including political leaders, widely circulated on social media does not help,” said Ela Gandhi, in a clear reference to a statement by the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) , Julius Malema. , who has often made anti-Indian comments.
“What 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, that’s what they should be called. We’re not going to make any excuses for that,” Malema said. had said in an interview with radio station Khaya FM after the recent violence.
22 black people have been killed in Phoenix, reportedly by Indian vigilantes, many of whom are now charged with murder and manslaughter.
During the riots surrounding the largely Indian area of Phoenix, which is surrounded by three black informal settlements, the Phoenix settlement was left untouched as looters raided neighboring businesses and burned them to the ground.
Lawyer Mahomed Saleem Khan (SC) warned Malema in a widely circulated social media post that if he persisted in his anti-Indian remarks, he would initiate legal proceedings against him.
“(Indians) have honored South Africa and the African continent with significant, material and ongoing contributions to commercial and cultural development, among other things,” Khan said.
Popular Indian 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 comments on social media and work with the Indian community to achieve more.
“The majority of the 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.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)