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Opinions of Thursday, 23 April 2015

Columnist: Yeboah, Asamoa Ernest

When xenophobia becomes murder

Are they going to kill them all?- the whole world cannot just ignore or play with the fact that there are certain people in the world who has phobia of strangers. Well! It is not wrong to fear strangers. Strangers are to be feared but not when the strangers are predominantly in the minority of where ever they are. The land where the only voice they have is that of their consulates, embassies and high commissions.
In some countries, foreigners do not even enjoy the same rights as citizens. Foreigners pay higher taxes and might even receive higher punishments if they commit the same offence with people who are citizens. Some foreigners even get their passports ceased and in some instances are kept behind bars without proper trial or trial at all. Even countries that have strict codes of conducts and laws for foreigners would not go to the extent to kill them on the excuse that they (foreigners) are taking their jobs.
This is where some South Africans have got it wrong. The moment the life of a person is taken, the reason moves away from whatever it is to that of murder. No matter the excuse that South Africans will give for killing foreigners. That reason can never be xenophobia but murder. People cannot commit murder and use xenophobia as smoke screen. In fact all lives are sacred and there is no difference between a foreigner’s life and the life of a citizen, so if a citizen intentionally kills a foreigner, then it is murder.
Each murder case is unique and has its own dynamics. No two murders are the same. But those murders being perpetrated on the streets of South Africa have the same uniqueness and dynamics- foreigners are progressing in South Africa whiles the natives are not. This is a very flimsy excuse that needs to be harshly and brutally criticized. Why would someone travel to another person’s country? Of course to progress and seek greener pastures.
The South Africans have forgotten that every country has nationals who are foreigners in other countries. What if youths in other countries also take arms and start killing South Africans on the basis of phobia of foreigners? That will be total chaos. Certainly most countries in Africa will not do that on the simple fact that they have the reputation for being hospitable. Every country wants that reputation- the country that foreigners can come in and enjoy.
The truth is that South Africans have always exhibit this attitude. According to a 2004 study published by the Southern African Migration Project (SAMP) – xenophobia was the by-product of attempts made by the ANC government to overcome divides of the past and build new forms of social cohesion. It has always been day but certain elements have always been around to prevent it from escalating on larger scales.
In fact, those murderers should bow their heads down in shame and disgrace as their actions have let the whole world down. The blacks in South Africa who are the perpetrators of this act were once the victims of apartheid which the whole world including the countries of the people they are killing today helped to dismantle. It is very ironic to see how the world is being paid now- with our own blood. Even underdeveloped countries that cannot feed its people contributed in giving freedom to those people murdering in the name of xenophobia.
One thing that is hard to understand and comprehend is the fact that the murderers are soiling the memories of Mandela, a great man the world revere, respect and adore. He fought for peace and justice for all and now this is how his memory is honored. Is it that the murderers do not know what Mandela stood for? Or that they know, but they have simply ignored his legacy and taken matters into their own hands.
The government of South Africa can only manage this damage caused by the killers by giving justice to those who have lost their lives. Through this they can actually distance themselves from the murderers and have the image of a peace loving nation, in which a few are killers. However if they fail to do this, and repeat what they did in 2008, where 182 cases associated with xenophobic attacks were withdrawn from court on the excuse that the complainants and victims have left the country- then we will know their own colors. It is known that one of the sons of the President also fuelled the attacks and killings.
The whole world is watching South Africa, we wish them well and they are to know that everyone is a foreigner in another land. All the two million foreigners will not leave South Africa. Are they going to kill everyone?