The eThekwini Municipality has granted Operation Dudula permission to march on Sunday, but warned the organisation that “this is not Johannesburg”.
Superintendent Parboo Sewpersad, eThekwini Metropolitan spokesperson, confirmed to Weekend Witness on Friday that the organisation was given approval for its scheduled march.
Operation Dudula is a movement that started in Johannesburg where a small group of people have been forcibly closing shops belonging to foreign nationals in the townships and city centre.
Sewpersad said they are preparing for about 400 people who will be marching from the Durban City Hall to the Point Police Station. “We are not going to allow them anywhere near The Workshop,” said Sewpersad, referring to the popular Workshop flea market where there are local and foreign vendors.
Many shopkeepers did not open their stalls two weeks ago when Operation Dudula planned to meet at the nearby Gugu Dlamini Park.
The City denied Operation Dudula a permit to gather and they had to postpone their march.
Sewpersad said police will not tolerate any acts of criminality on Sunday.
“Everyone has a right to march in this country, but it must be within the regulations. We are not going to allow them to go into shops, loot or break the law — this is not Johannesburg,” he said.
The march comes on the back of the death of a Zimbabwean man, Elvis Nyathi, who was allegedly burned to death by a mob in Diepsloot — a township in Johannesburg on Wednesday night.
According to media reports, a small group of people had been going around the township asking foreigners for their passports.
Daniel Dunia, director of the Africa Solidarity Network — a Durban-based organisation that helps refugees in the country — said Nyathi’s death was “deeply concerning.”
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms the killing of a person who’s only perceived crime was not being South African.
“We ask the SA government to protect all people within its borders and law enforcement needs to bring the people responsible to book,” he said.
“The biggest problem is that since 2006 we have not seen perpetrators of xenophobia being punished. Law enforcement needs to send out a strong message to deter people in future who want to do this.”
Dunia said they have already told all foreign shop owners in Durban to stay at home this weekend.
“We understand that everyone has a right to march, but our concern is that whenever Operation Dudula marches, shops are looted and people are harassed,” he said.
Dan Radebe, Operation Dudula’s deputy chairperson, condemned the killing of Nyathi.
“We cannot fight lawlessness with lawlessness, that is why all Operation Dudula activities are done in conjunction with law enforcement because we believe in respecting the rule of law in the country,” he said.
Radebe said Operation Dudula could not be held accountable for communities harassing or even killing foreign nationals in SA.
“The country right now is a ticking time bomb and if government does not solve this problem of illegal immigration very soon, then the situation is going to get worse,” he said.