Helping victims

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

One of the most influential cultural formations in the country, the African Heritage Trust, has condemned the recent violence by poor South Africans against African foreigners.

The trust, which organises the popular annual African traditional dance festival Zindala Zombili, is the latest artist organisation to slam the perpetrators.

The organisation's showpiece draws participants from neighbouring countries, who unite through the dance of diverse cultures of southern Africa.

The trust's leader, Qhuzulini Sithole, said: "The last four weeks were a period of national disgrace and shame as mobs attacked immigrants, particularly from African countries, and destroyed their property. More than 62 people were left dead with thousands more injured and even more displaced and left homeless.

"A country that was a beacon of hope and an international model turned into a place of horrific scenes that were repeatedly aired by the South African and international media.

"Whatever might have triggered or caused the attacks, nothing can ever justify the barbaric response that dehumanised both the perpetrators and the victims.

"This is a moment for national soul-searching to understand where we went wrong as a nation to produce people, even if only a small gang or mob, that committed such horrific acts on their brothers and sisters from the continent, whose countries had supported our liberation effort.

"Culture and heritage has an important role to restore human dignity in a society ravaged by the legacy of colonialism and apartheid as well as continued poverty and an unacceptable level of unemployment."

The trust calls on all South Africans to open their hearts and help immigrants who were attacked.

A fundraising event has been planned for June 16 at the Windybrow Theatre in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, from 10:30am.

There will be performances by traditional Vatsonga, Batswana, Basotho, Bapedi, amaZulu, amaXhosa, Vavhenda, amaNdebele and Swazi groups.