Thousands of people attended a peace march held by the eThekwini municipality in Durban on Thursday to mobilise against xenophobia. The march was supported by a number of South African celebrities, political leaders and community members, but the event was marred by the outbreak of an anti-peace march at the tail end of proceedings. QINISO MBILI was there.
About 10,000 people were expected to attend the march, which came after a series of xenophobic attacks were carried out in Durban. At the stadium where the march began, the chant “Abayi ndawo”, meaning “They (foreigners) are not going anywhere,” soon became a song that people danced to.
One of the banners displayed read: “We are all foreigners somewhere.” Another placard, held by a white young man read, “I acknowledge that I am previously and currently privileged … How can I help you to end this violence?”
Amongst the lengthy list of celebrities present at the march, were the internationally acclaimed Black Coffee and DJ Euphonik. Andile Dlamini, a Durban-based herbalist most known for clipping money to his clothes also attended, festooned with R200 notes.
Kwazulu-Natal premier Senzo Mchunu, addressing the crowds at the City Hall, said that given the potlitical violence of the late ’90s, the people of KwaZulu-Natal should have been tired of violence by now.
The crowd erupted in chaos, diverting attention from City Hall. The police prevented members of the media from speaking to some members of the crowd, claiming they were violent. Police used water cannons, teargas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd, but they would not be removed.
A bystander was hit by the water cannon while waiting for a taxi at the taxi rank and a street vendor also had his fruit stand destroyed by the water cannon. The crowd later gathered around them and sang “Senzeni Na?” (What did we do?) to the police officers.