Govt raises concerns over attacks on Indians in South Africa as violence spreads in country


India has taken up the matter of safety and security of Indians or people of Indian origin in South Africa in wake of the violence that the country is witnessing over the arrest of former President Jacob Zuma on corruption charges.

Concerned over the safety of Indian expats amid riots, External Affairs Minister (EAM) Dr S Jaishankar spoke to his South African counterpart Dr Naledi Pandor on Wednesday.

The South African side has assured that its government is doing “utmost to enforce law and order” and asserted that “early restoration of normalcy and peace was its overriding priority”.

“Appreciate the conversation with South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor today. She assured that her government was doing utmost to enforce law and order. Early restoration of normalcy and peace was the overriding priority,” Jaishankar said in a tweet on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, sources told India Today TV that in the backdrop of the ongoing unrest in some parts of South Africa, “The EAM today [Wednesday] spoke to the foreign minister of South Africa, Dr Naledi Pandor. It was a cordial and open conversation as the two leaders know each other personally.”

MEA secretary Sanjay Bhattacharya also met the High Commissioner of South Africa to India, Joel Sibusiso Ndebele. Both sides expect the situation to improve soon.

This comes at a time when there have been massive appeals for help from the Indian community in South Africa.

RIOTS IN SOUTH AFRICA

Widespread looting and violence has plunged South Africa into chaos. The violence erupted last Wednesday with the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma.

Last week, former South African president Jacob Zuma (79) was sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court. Zuma was found guilty of defying a court order to testify before a state-backed inquiry probing allegations of corruption during his term as president from 2009 to 2018.

Enraged by Zuma’s arrest, Zuma’s supporters blocked roads and highways, using burnt tires and other objects as obstacles.

Among areas affected by the rioting are Durban, Pietermaritzburg and Johannesburg, all of which have a sizeable population of Indian expats. Reports are also coming of businesses owned by Indians and Indian-origin South Africans being targeted by looters.

Initial estimates suggest that over 70 people have been killed, mostly in stampedes, as thousands plundered retail outlets, malls and even radio stations.

The situation in South Africa is worsening day after day with government agencies struggling to bring the violence under control.

INDIAN PEOPLE TARGETED

One of the leaders of the Indian community in South Africa said, “The Indian people are being targeted in all areas of Kwazulu Natal and Johannesburg. There are 1.3 million in South Africa, although all are not in danger presently, but it’s heading that way. We have been crying out to the South African government to send the South African Defence force to assist. They are not coming through. Our Indian brothers and sisters together with South African police forces cannot cope, they being outnumbered.”

Regarding reports of arson and looting against Indians and Indian-origin South Africans, the South African side conveyed that opportunistic elements were taking advantage of the situation to engage in looting and violence, as highlighted by President Ramaphosa in his Address to the nation on July 12, said the source.

They emphasised that the ongoing events were criminal in nature and not political or racially motivated.

“Businesses, shops and houses are being burnt. Petrol bombs are being thrown. Fires are being set to businesses, cars and houses. We cannot do anything. We are outnumbered. Our brave men, women, children, security companies and SAP are doing their best. Also, remember our SAP are not mandated to shoot to kill. They have rubber bullets, so their lives at risk as well,” said an eyewitness.



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Source link : https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/-we-are-outnumbered-govt-raises-concerns-attacks-indians-south-africa-1828312-2021-07-15

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Publish date : 2021-07-15 03:30:41

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