Leaders of Operation Dudula say they will not be conducting any violent raids in KwaZulu-Natal.
They were speaking after officially launching an Operation Dudula branch with a march in the Durban CBD on Sunday. Over 200 members marched through the Durban streets in pouring rain with a heavy police presence.
Operation Dudula is a movement that started in Johannesburg where a small group of people have been forcibly closing shops and raiding properties belonging to foreign nationals in the townships and city centre. The vigilante-like group is strongly fighting foreigners who came to live and work in South Africa, claiming they are committing crimes in South Africa and creating unemployment in the country.
Speaking to The Witness after the march, Operation Dudula’s Dan Radebe said the days of the organisation leading violent raids were over.
He said: “We speak a lot about the economy, so then it does not make sense for us to go and disrupt or destroy the same economy we are trying to get our people into.”
Instead, Radebe said, their KZN members would be working with the Department of Home Affairs and police officials to identify areas which house or employ undocumented foreigners.
“We need to hold these departments accountable. Also businesses that hire foreigners. Just because someone has a valid passport does not mean they should be allowed to cook burgers and chips in places like KFC and Steers while our children sit unemployed in the townships,” he said.
Radebe led Sunday’s march from the Durban City Hall to the Point Police Station.
Police insisted that they were not going to allow any deviation from the approved route.
Many stalls in the city centre and the popular Workshop flea market were closed, as vendors feared that the march could turn violent.
Dan Radebe, Operation Dudula's Deputy Chairperson addresses the crowd at the Point Police Station from inside a police van (OD's loud stopped working).
— Thabiso Goba (@ThabisoGoba2) April 10, 2022
Weekend Witness reported that foreigners in Durban were told to stay at home for their safety this weekend.
As the march made its way towards the Point Precinct, an area with a large foreign community, the crowd started singing anti-foreigner songs.
Some even included the use of the derogatory term, “amakwerekwere”.
Some even included the use of the derogatory Zulu term for foreigners.
BOTTLES THROWN AT MARCHERS
Police had to act swiftly when people from the Sea Point Towers (Seaboard residence) building threw bottles and water at the marching crowd.
Some enraged members of Dudula tried to enter the building, but they were stopped by police.
The building has private tenants, but also serves as a residence for students enrolled at the Mangosuthu University of Technology and the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
Some people in the march also had skirmishes with members of the public, but police quickly intervened before these could get serious.
PRAISE FOR MOTSOALEDI
During the march, the crowd sang praises of Minister of Home Affairs, Aaron Motsoaledi, who has been speaking forcefully against undocumented immigrants in the country.
Operation Dudula leaders later handed over a memorandum of demands to police and immigration officials.
The memorandum urged immigration officials to ramp up their efforts of deporting undocumented immigrants and for police to investigate known drug dens around the city that were allegedly run by foreign nationals.
FOCUS ON COUNTERFEIT GOODS
The memorandum also called on the South African Revenue Service to investigate how counterfeit goods passed through Durban harbour.
“Counterfeit and illicit goods are destroying the economy and affecting the livelihoods of South Africans. Foreign investment is welcome, but must be done within the respective immigration and investment laws of SA, including applicable tax laws,” it reads.
Victoria Mamogobo from the Put South Africans First movement, said they were going to “take back” the country with or without help from the police.
She said: “We are calling for all legal and illegal foreigners working in non-scarce jobs to leave so that South Africans are prioritised for those jobs.”
Andrew Dikobo, a home affairs immigration officer, and Brigadier QV Ngubane, a station commander of Point SAPS received and signed the memorandum.
They said their respective departments would respond to Operation Dudula in due course.
After the march, members of Operation Dudula were transported in buses back to taxi ranks to prevent them from gathering in groups without police oversight.
SACC CALLS FOR PEACE
Meanwhile, the South African Council of Churches (SACC) released a statement calling for peace between locals and foreigners.
This comes after the death of Zimbabwean national Elvis Nyathi, who was allegedly stoned and burned to death by a mob in Diepsloot, Johannesburg. “Whatever grievances or opinions anyone may have about non-South Africans of whatever category in our society and economy, there is a way to address those in a structured manner that does not involve mob lynching resulting in death,” the statement reads.