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Page last updated at 20:21 GMT, Wednesday, 21 May 2008 21:21 UK

SA bloggers want end to violence

A woman runs as she tries to extinguish a fire in a burning shack during violent xenophobic clashes at Reiger park informal settlement on the outskirt of Johannesburg

South African bloggers have roundly condemned attacks on foreigners in the country, with some saying the African National Congress (ANC) government is to blame.

Bloggers from other countries including Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom, who are currently living, working and studying in South Africa, have also joined the chorus of condemnation against the attacks, urging the government to provide urgent solutions

Reggie Nel writes that the attacks have "cast an ominous veil of shame over our rainbow".

"What an embarrassment this must be for those who still think that we have dealt with racism and oppression, simply because there are black and coloured faces in parliament. This scourge is running much deeper," he writes.

"This is a call for speedy intervention, otherwise violence against the other, whether it be Zimbabweans or Congolese, will become violence against Indian shop owners, Coloured bus drivers and white plumbers rendering service.

"This evil culture, raging in the Alexmob, will spread to another township, another residential area, the towns, and eventually take over. I am shocked by what is happening in our country... I am appalled by the deafening silence of our leaders," Reggie writes.

On Senseless Sense, blogger Kulkat says he is embarrassed by the attacks on foreigners.

"It's unnecessary, it is unbecoming and cannot be condoned by any explanation or justification by either locals/representatives/leadership, and no cheap political points should be scored on same. The perpetrators must be arrested, named and shamed; and should face the fullest might of the law!"

Looking for reasons

On the In the News blog, Newser wonders whether the attacks are "strictly xenophobia related or is there another motive for these attacks"?

"Many foreigners have been living side by side with South Africans in South Africa with very few problems but now all of a sudden there is a problem."

He offers a theory that the attacks are not xenophobic, but related to crime.

"If these attacks were purely xenophobic-related, then the attacks would have spread to other townships across South Africa that a lot of foreigners stay in. The fact that for now the attacks are only happening in Johannesburg gets me to think that this is all part of an organised crime syndicate," the blogger writes.

Zukiswa Wanner expresses shock at current affairs in her motherland.

"I am particularly pained because I too have been a refugee in other African countries... I have been wondering whether I would have been alive if the Zambians had been as unwelcoming to my parents as my fellow nationals have been to our fellow Africans?

"I wonder too whether South Africa would be the free country it is today if the rest of other African countries had been as unwelcoming?"

The 6,000 miles from civilization blog is run by an Englishman who has been living in Cape Town for four years. He fears the violence will spread to other parts of South Africa.

"It seems likely that this situation will certainly get worse before it gets better," he writes.

He sympathises with Zimbabwean immigrants, who are being targeted.

"What choice for the Zimbabwean immigrants particularly - starvation in their own country or the threat of violence in this new home?

"And me? An immigrant here myself - 'taking their jobs'. I'm just glad that I am where I am and not facing what those less fortunate than me are facing right now," he says.

ANC blamed

But Doberman, writing on I Luv South Africa, But I Hate my Government points the finger of blame at the ANC government "for allowing millions of foreigners to invade our country illegally, to steal jobs, resources, to commit crime.

"For allowing Zimbabwe to fail, for letting skills leave the country, for diluting the police force of talent to just plain misgovernance on a scale that would make [President Robert] Mugabe's maniacal actions in Zimbabwe pale in significance in the end," the blogger writes.

"What has been done to South Africa in 14 years of ANC misrule may never be fixed and if you think the bottom has been reached, there's still Zooma [Jacob Zuma, recently elected president of the ANC] and his thugs waiting in the wings to contribute their part," the post concludes.

In another post titled "Mbeki must go", Doberman says: "The president who has failed to see any crisis with... scenes of unmitigated barbarism against foreigners is destroying our nation."

Shepherd Mpofu, a Zimbabwean student studying in Johannesburg, writes on the blog Sherp that the violence highlights the country's leadership crisis.

"It is a crisis of governance. It is the results of the dreams deferred... Indeed, ours shall be a stuff of nightmares. The recent xenophobic attacks have exposed South Africa's leadership vacuum. He condemns the "outrageous actions" by "idiots and barbarians" which, he says, "once again shows how a country with the most progressive constitution is still stuck in the past".

Shepherd decries the attacks on his countrymen. "It is painful to see my countrymen being reduced to such targets of mindless attacks by barbarians who not only fail to value themselves but humanity in general."

The blogger suggests that an end to the Zimbabwe crisis would help resolve the problem.

"What South Africa needs to do, through Mbeki, is act strongly against Mugabe... The return to sanity will reflect on South Africa. People will go back home and resources will not be as strained."

South Africa's image

Newser is concerned that the xenophobic attacks will hurt South Africa's chance to host the 2010 World Cup.

The whole world is seeing pictures and videos of the attacks and it cannot paint a pretty picture at all. Crime has always been a huge issue about South Africa hosting the world cup," the blogger writes.

"The xenophobia attacks are happening in the townships where the poor are, so that should not affect 2010 - right? Wrong. Any form of crime in South Africa is a negative to how the world portrays South Africa, be it crime in the townships or crime in the leafy suburbs."

Bloggers also commented on calls for the army to be deployed to quell the violence.

Mike, writing on Inside South Africa, suggests that using the army is the only way to stem the violence.

"We don't have the convenience of avoiding the embarrassment of deploying the SANDF in our streets to restore order, it should have been done already," says Mike.

The 6000 miles from civilization blogger also supports the use of the military.

"I would suggest that the time for that decision has already passed. With every news bulletin, we are hearing of more problems, more casualties, more deaths. However, whether Mbeki will (for once?) act decisively in this situation remains to be seen," he writes.

Wessel, writing on Mhambi, also shares this feeling. "Perhaps we do need the army now, even if it's a blunt instrument. It's best to stop this as quickly as possible. It's creating instability and could soon become something else," he says.

Mike of Inside South Africa responds to Wessel's post: "It is a blunt instrument, but in a way we're dealing with a 'blunt' situation here. Initially, to stem the violence, well-managed and limited force will be necessary".

Newser also supports the calls for the army to be deployed, as the police appear to be overwhelmed.

"There have been calls for the South African army to step in and help or take over from the police. South Africa is not at war with anyone, so the army is available to assist in times like this," says Newser.

The blogger calls on the government to provide urgent solutions before the problem gets out of hand.

"The government has an opportunity to act now and try stop these attacks. Or do they want to wait until it really gets out of hand before they act?"

Solutions suggested

Mike calls for commitment and determined action from the government to resolve the problem.

"The current orgy of hate and lawlessness cannot be ignored or dealt with by run-of-the-mill press statements," he writes.

"President Mbeki needs to address the nation via national TV and radio and make clear that the government will not tolerate the evil of xenophobia. He can gather the new ANC leadership (including Jacob Zuma) and other prominent leaders around him when making such a statement. Obviously this needs to be backed up by action."

However Wessel, on the Mhambi blog, feels that Mbeki cannot provide solutions.

"I don't know if Mbeki making a speech would work. His credibility is zero. Zuma should be on the ground, speaking to people."

Doberman, on I Luv South Africa, But I Hate my Government, says the government has ignored the problem for a long time, "and as usual, has done nothing, thereby allowing the problem to fester".

"Will it finally do something and remove the problem of foreigners?" he wonders.

BBC Monitoringselects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad.


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