DA leader John Steenhuisen has written to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) requesting its intervention to stop the EFF’s planned Thursday march to Phoenix, north Durban.
Steenhuisen said the demonstration “against racist Indians”, organised by the EFF eThekwini region, risks fuelling a race war in the predominantly Indian community.
“I write to you as leader of the opposition of the Republic of South Africa to plead with you to investigate and, if necessary, step in and stop the dangerous race-baiting, racial stereotyping, and racial scapegoating that the EFF is engaging in in the wake of the KwaZulu-Natal unrest,” he said in his letter, dated 3 August 2021.
The letter was addressed to the chair of the SAHRC advocate Bongani Majola.
Police Minister Bheki Cele revealed on Tuesday that 36 people had lost their lives in Phoenix in the wake of the unrest and looting that swept parts of Gauteng and KZN three weeks ago. Twenty-two people were arrested in connection to the murders in the area.
Steenhuisen said he believes the SAHRC’s intervention was in the public interest “because this kind of racial mobilisation risks descending into a full-blown race war at a time when the police have shown themselves to be either unable or unwilling to intervene timeously”.
He said the EFF’s march was intended to inflame violence between black and Indian residents.
“The EFF thrives on racial division, and so it is very much in the party’s interest to fan the flames of localized incidents of racial tension where they exist. This is the very last thing the traumatised communities of Phoenix need right now.”
Steenhuisen added that the communities of Phoenix were “extremely vulnerable right now” and called on the SAHRC to protect Phoenix from the risk of further violence by stopping the EFF’s march.
“If that intervention is not within the SAHRC’s power to implement, then I urge the SAHRC to get an interdict from the court. It is, after all, the state’s role to protect people from violence and potential incitement of violence.”