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Zulu king faces more criticism over controversial comments

A Wits researcher says leaders must be weary of their words because they are taken as a directive.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma (L) and Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini (R), Picture: Supplied

CAPE TOWN - Wits University researcher Jean-Pierre Misago on Thursday slammed the controversial comments made by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, suggesting that his remarks about foreigners may have fuelled xenophobic tensions in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN).

"Even people high up in the government share the same feelings as people in the street and when those pronouncements come from the political and country leaders, people on the ground take them as a directive.," Misago said in an interview.

During his speech in Pongola this month, Zwelithini made seemingly derogatory remarks about foreigners.

WATCH: _ Goodwill Zwelithini says foreigners must go_

The Zulu king was widely criticised for his comments but Police Minister Nathi Nhleko downplayed Zwelithini's remarks earlier this week, saying he had been misquoted.

Nhleko said: "If you're in the country illegally, effectively you need to be deported. That's essentially the long and short of what the king said. I then don't understand why the whole thing was turned around."

Acting in his personal capacity, Tim Flack, a South African National Defence Union (Sandu) official, has since laid a charge of hate speech against Zwelithini with the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC).

In a tweet sent out earlier on Tuesday, he said he felt compelled to take action in his private capacity.

Altho i have 100% backing from @PikkieGreeff and thr @SANDU_LIVE team,it was not the union laying a case.It was me in my personal capacity

He also has plans to approach the Equality Court should the SAHRC not investigate the matter.

Misago said he wasn't confident government would properly address the issue of xenophobia and referred to the efforts officials first made amidst xenophobic attacks in 2008.

He feels the ministerial task team set up by President Jacob Zuma will not last long enough to bring about effective change.

"There were task teams in Parliament and in government but we didn't see anything significant from those task teams. My fear is that [the task team] is going to die away after a few weeks."

He further questioned the government's use of the term afrophobia to describe the violent clashes and described the term as, "not supported by empirical evidence."

LISTEN: Jean-Pierre Misago wants government to implement long term intervention against xenophobia.

Peace Architecture Designer Professor Clever Nyathi, meanwhile, believes that peace can eventually be achieved if all the relevant role players are committed to bringing about transformation.

"It's clear you should involve society, you need to involve community based organisations, you need to involve traditional leaders, church leaders and all of these will help."

LISTEN: _ Clever Nyathi believes combating hate crimes against foreigners starts with community leaders. _

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