My critique of Operation Dudula last week drew equally harsh criticism from many of the initiative’s supporters.
Quite frankly, I was shocked and disappointed at the level and extent of xenophobia that exists in my city.
The hatred for foreigners – legal and illegal – was almost palpable through the comments on our Facebook page.
One person commented that it was unfair that the taxes of hardworking South Africans go towards feeding foreigners.
The statement in itself comes from an angry place of inhumane selfishness.
Our empathy and compassion compels us to share what we have with fellow human beings, who may be starving.
Besides, considering the amounts involved in corruption on the highest levels, we clearly have enough to go around.
Another person wanted to know why they come here, when we clearly have more than enough problems to deal with.
Firstly, the statement implies that “they” are a problem to be dealt with, and the answer is obvious.
If they are coming to our shores, then clearly things are a whole lot worse (and possibly life threatening) in their own countries.
And as someone pointed out, many African countries welcomed our freedom fighters (like Nelson Mandela) with open arms, when they needed refuge from the Apartheid government.
A few people took it upon themselves to post articles of foreign nationals arrested for involvement in criminal activities, as proof that it is an extensive problem that implicates all foreigners from Africa.
I don’t think I have to point out how absurd that line of thought is.
Every now and again I read about a South African who has been arrested for a crime in another country.
It certainly doesn’t mean that all our expats are criminals abroad. To the contrary, South Africans have an exceptional reputation almost everywhere in the world.
Be that as it may, I think this particular resurgence of xenophobia is borne out of people’s general frustration with government, crime, unemployment and cost of living.
In such uncertain times, you often find jaundiced leaders with silver tongues and ulterior motives emerging to point the finger at easy, vulnerable targets.
History is full of examples and in this case, it is foreigners.
Those very same leaders are too focused on their hidden agendas, or simply too frightened to tackle the real issues that impact people.
For example, Operation Dudula has spelled out their public agenda, but when launching in Cape Town, they conveniently ignore the city’s biggest issue – gangsterism.
If they truly want to have a positive effect on this city, why do they not employ their considerable resources to tackle the scourge that claims innocent lives daily ?
I’m sure you can figure the answer out for yourself.