Security has been beefed up and dozens of people arrested after clashes erupted in Alexandra between South Africans and migrants.
The violence trended under the #OperationDudula, referring to the Operation Dudula group – consisting mainly of Soweto residents – who, along with the Put South Africa First movement stormed streets weeks ago, in multiple demonstrations protesting the presence of foreign nationals and accusing them of various crimes.
Several images of men carrying bricks during the attacks forced the shops of migrants to be closed for the day. A foreign national was beaten on the head causing him to bleed profusely from the head.
Operation Dudula took laws into their hands, saying they want illegal foreign nationals to leave the country as they blame them for taking up jobs that they say should be held by South Africans.
One of the leaders of the group Simon Tastsi insists that many young South Africans have qualifications but turned to crime, drug abuse among other vices because they cannot secure jobs. He adds that “all undocumented foreigners must leave!”
The Socio-Economic Rights Institute of South Africa believes that Operation Dudula was orchestrated by some political parties under the disguise of protecting employment for vulnerable South Africans.
The group was dispersed by police using tear gas during a march in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, in February. The police said the group had not sought permission for the march and the group vowed to return after securing permission to march a week later.
Operation Dudula chairperson Peter Dimba said “We warn those who are sourcing votes using our name. We will not be deterred by these people. We need to be vigilant of people who want to sabotage our operation.”
Operation Dudula’s motives also sparked the creation of a counter-movement called Kopanang Africa Against Xenophobia. The group was also formed in response to ongoing attacks on immigrants and plans to lead a march on Human Rights Day, March 21.
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