‘Media should be investigated for inciting xenophobic violence’

Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini has also called on the media to release a full transcript of his earlier speech.

Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, surrounded by his bodyguards, arrives at the Moses Mabhida Stadium ahead of his address following attacks on foreign nationals in the province. Picture: EWN.

DURBAN - Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini on Monday called on the media to subject itself to an investigation by the Human Rights Commission for what he said was inciting xenophobic violence in KwaZulu-Natal.

The king was addressing an imbizo on xenophobia at the Moses Mabhida Stadium where more than 3,000 people attended.

Zwelithini was recently quoted in the media saying all foreigners must pack their belongings and leave the country, but the Zulu monarch has reiterated that his remarks were taken out of context.

"There are those who say I have committed a crime, but I don't know which crime I've committed because I haven't killed anybody."

Shortly after he was quoted saying foreigners should leave, clashes erupted between locals and foreigners in Mahatma Gandhi Road, in Durban's city centre.

Violence spread from KwaZulu-Natal to Johannesburg last week and on Saturday, Emmanuel Sithole - a Mozambican man - was stabbed to death by locals in Alexandra.

Three people have been arrested and are due to appear in court on Tuesday.

Sithole is the seventh victim of the latest flare up of xenophobic attacks.

LISTEN: Photojournalist recounts Emmanuel Sithole's stabbing

The king said he was also willing to cooperate with any investigation.

African religion expert Dr Velaphi Mkhize from the Umsamo African Institute said the king's speech revealed that he still felt he was being unfairly blamed for the xenophobic violence.

Mkhize said the king made a direct request to the Human Rights Commission to investigate the media.

Zwelithini has also called on the media to release a full transcript of his earlier speech and said this would exonerate him of any blame.


The Zulu king denied he incited any xenophobic violence and while his call for peace between foreign and local communities had been welcomed by foreigners in Durban's Point district, some remained sceptical.

They said he should admit he caused any violence.

The king started his speech by saying we are all African and relayed the story of ethnic violence in Rwanda, which left thousands dead.

He said he didn't want the same to happen in South Africa.

Zwelithini called for peace between the Zulu nation and foreigners, insisting his subjects should be the 'shield of foreigners'.

He added that better education was needed to improve the relationship between communities.

His speech was met with cheers from the crowd and people who were booing foreign ambassadors sat and listened to him quietly.

He said he would co-operate with an investigation by the Human Rights Commission into his comments, which would be discussed at a moral regeneration rally in KwaZulu-Natal.


Meanwhile, the Human Rights Commission said Zwelithini should dissociate himself from xenophobic attacks apparently made in his name.

It warned political leaders to be mindful of the impact their comments make on communities.

The commission's Pregs Govender confirmed they were investigating the king's comments as well the xenophobic violence over the past week

"The king has to dissociate himself from any of the actions that the people have said resulted from his words."

Govender says the commission made recommendations to the government after the 2008 attacks, but these were not taken seriously.

"If the recommendations were given effect to, we think that there would be significantly less incidents of xenophobia in our country."

The diaspora forum and the commission have criticised the government for not acting sooner despite their warnings that xenophobia is rife in South Africa.

Meanwhile, expelled Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) Secretary General Zwelinzima Vavi challenged all sectors of society to march against, what he calls, barbaric acts of xenophobia.

Vavi is among unions and organisations who have convened an emergency coalition called the 'Peoples March Against Xenophobia'.

More than 30,000 people are expected to march in Johannesburg on Thursday.

Vavi joined the African Diaspora Forum and Equal Education in condemning the attacks on foreigners.

"We need to take a stand that South Africa is not represented by that barbaric minority."

Wits Vice-Chancellor Adam Habib committed his support to the march saying South Africans should march or hang their heads in shame.

"For one of the few times post 1994 period we actually have to hang our heads in shame.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and organizations such as Section 27 and Corruption Watch are also supporting the march.

WATCH: Foreign nationals fear more attacks may occur