'No evidence suggesting April violence was xenophobia'

Police say there was no meeting organised between locals to make a decision to attack foreign nationals.

FILE: The march against xenophobia attacks ended at the Mary Fitzgerald Square on 23 April 2015, with many people holding signs that call for peace and an end to the attacks. Picture: Emily Corke/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Police in Alexandra have told Parliament's ad-hoc committee that they have no evidence suggesting that the violence between foreigners and locals in April was xenophobic.

The committee is investigating the clashes between foreigners and locals earlier this year in which shops were looted, people attacked and in some instances killed.

The committee spent the day in Alexandra, speaking to police and traditional leaders, to determine the root problem and decide on permanent interventions.

Traditional leaders and the police have told the Parliamentary team that it was only a few criminal youngsters who wanted to cause trouble.

The police's major general Zodwa Molefe says there was no meeting or placard organised between locals to make a decision to attack foreign nationals.

"There wasn't even a placard or something to say people of Alex are saying this."

She was answering questions raised by committee representatives, who slated the media accusing journalists for distorting the truth, labelling it as xenophobia when it was not the case.

Committee co-chair Ruth Bhengu said, "It had more to do with poverty and crime. What were they looting? Food, things they can eat so how does that then become xenophobia?"

Traditional leaders have called on the media to publicly apologise for wrongly using the word xenophobia.

MEDIA SLATED FOR LABELLING APRIL ATTACKS AS 'XENOPHOBIA'

The group slated the media for labelling the violence as xenophobia.

Bengu said it's not only wrong but extremely irresponsible of the media to incorrectly label the attacks on foreign nationals in April as xenophobic.

"Media must assist us and be part of building the country and define the problem as it is, not to sugar coat it."

The committee said if the media continues to distort the truth, labelling the attacks as xenophobia, they will never be able to resolve the real underlying problem.