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Stop Dudula: Fight Xenophobia Campaign

“Operation Dudula” intended to push foreigners out of Soweto on Youth Day. Picture: James Oatway.


“Operation Dudula” intended to push foreigners out of Soweto on Youth Day. Picture: James Oatway.

First they came for the Zimbabweans and I didn’t speak out because I was not a Zimbabwean.
Then Truck drivers (ATDF) and I did not speak because I was not a truck driver.
Then they came for the Malawians, and I did not speak out because I was not a Malawian.
Then they came for the Somalians, and I did not speak out because I was not a Somalian.
When they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.




[Paraphrased from quote by Pastor German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller, speaking about the


The Stop Xenophobia Campaign will be having a first meeting on Saturday 19th February, 12pm at Anglican The Cathedral of St Mary the Virgin. or join by Zoom



South Africa is no stranger to xenophobic violence, most notably in 2008 when 62 people were murdered, 700 wounded and more than 100,000 displaced. Less well remembered is that one third of those killed in this spate of violence were in fact South African (mistaken identity).




At face value it appeared as an anti-Zimbabwean or anti-Malawian movement, “a clean-up” campaign to make our streets safer from Black African migrants, but the violence truly reflected a people that had turned against
themselves. It was, in a phrase, “anti-outsider.”



Fast forward to 2022 and over the last several weeks we once again have witnessed brutal attacks and “clean-up operations” against African migrants, their small businesses and Black people suspected of not being South African under the  auspices of Operation Dudula.



History tells us – i.e. all of those who live and work in South Africa – that we must not make the same mistake as those who stood by and silently watched the millions that fell victim to Nazi hate and terror.



This is everyone’s fight.



As the COVID-19 pandemic pushes the poor and working class into deeper levels of poverty, unemployment and homelessness, the hungry and the desperate will understandably look for answers. But the leaders of Operation Dudula do not have them (neither do politicians who have rather elected to go ‘mute’).




Unlike many progressive movements in the country, notice how Operation Dudula does not call for an end to austerity budgets, a wealth tax, increased social spending to create jobs and provide services.



In fact, the leaders of Dudula want us to ignore the billionaires who have profited from inequality and instead to target migrants, who are amongst some of the most vulnerable people. What they offer is more hatred,
division, intolerance and misery.



This is a clarion call to all progressive individuals and organisations to stand in solidarity with migrants and echo the constitutional ideal that “South Arrica belongs to all who live in it”



What is required is a counter-voice and counter-movement of people committed to social justice and who stand in solidarity with and practically support and protect immigrants, alongside the most vulnerable in our communities.


The time to act is now.


Join us on 19 February 2022 at 12pm in Johannesburg to develop practical interventions including an education and media campaign as well as local interventions to stop xenophobic ideas, discourse and violence from spreading.


We will also be building towards a public action on 21 March 2022 which is Human Rights Day in South Africa.


This has also been declared by the UN as the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and, we would argue, xenophobia and all forms of discrimination and oppression.



All individuals, community and other civil society organisations, trade unions and social movements who stand against xenophobia are welcome to join in the ‘Fight Against Xenophobia’

Robert Tapfumaneyi