A twist to last week’s xenophobic attacks in South Africa seems to be unfolding following a newspaper report that the violence stemmed from an “orchestrated campaign to destabilize the country.”
The influential Mail and Guardian reported on Friday that “security cluster officials are investigating the possibility of an orchestrated campaign to destabilize the country.”
An investigative report by the newspaper named the All Truck Drivers Forum (ATDF) as possible instigator of the chaos.
It said: “High-ranking security officials have also discussed the political motivations behind the flare-up in violence, with theories that the violence was part of a campaign to embarrass and ultimately destabilize the presidency of Cyril Ramaphosa.”
It added: In parts of KwaZulu-Natal, freight trucks were attacked and set alight.
Drivers found to be foreign nationals were also assaulted.
ATDF, which purports to represent only South African truck drivers, has dismissed the intelligence, saying that its organisation is anti-violence. Its spokesperson, Sipho Zungu, said on Thursday: “When this latest violence started on Monday we were in court, so there is no way this was us. ATDF has never even had a strike, let alone [engaged in] violence [and] looting. The nation is being misled here.
“What needs to be clarified is that ATDF is fighting for all truck drivers in the country, no matter if they work or not.” He went on to add: “The reality is that South African truck drivers no longer have jobs, and we have been engaging truck owners and government that they must get rid of foreign truck drivers.”
This kind of sentiment, and existing tensions, were worsened by political rhetoric around access to healthcare and unemployment before the elections. It reached boiling point last month, when police operations in Johannesburg to find fake goods were thwarted by shopkeepers, who pelted law-enforcement authorities with rocks, forcing a retreat.
Public reaction to this took on a xenophobic tinge, with some South Africans blaming foreign nationals for a host of problems — from the proliferation of drugs and fake goods, to crime and filth in inner-city Johannesburg.
Information shared with the JCPS cluster last Friday indicated that meetings to discuss strategy and co-ordinate attacks on foreign nationals were to schedule to take place this past weekend. The meetings were to be held at venues in different parts of Gauteng, including the Mzimhlophe grounds in Soweto, Alexandra at Pan taxi rank, Randburg taxi rank, Ezibayeni in Hillbrow and Part Two, Diepsloot.