We condemn in the strongest possible terms today’s shameful xenophobic march by the “Mamelodi Concerned Residents” in Pretoria. It is reprehensible, shocking and appalling. So too were some of the statements made by Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba.

There has already been reports of looting of foreign owned businesses and a lot of panic and concern.

According to news reports, last Saturday community members torched two houses in Pretoria West over allegations of drug peddling and sex work. Protesters said their targets were “brothels and drug dens” run by migrants from elsewhere in Africa.

On Monday night, 20 foreign-owned shops were looted in Atteridgeville, Lotus Gardens and Mamelodi East, while residents in Rosettenville, south of Joburg, burnt down 12 houses. Last night several places were burnt and vehicles looted in Atteridgeville.

The organisers of the march have claimed the majority of people in South Africa had an issue with so-called foreigners occupying economic space which could be taken up by locals. We reject this xenophobic, shameful and hateful talk.

At SECTION27, we have work colleagues from all over Africa and the world. Today, we stand up for them and others who are continuously targeted simply because they were born outside our borders. Hatred and xenophobia has no place in our country.

We share this poem by playwright Mike Van Graan who penned it after the xenophobic violence inspired by Goodwill Zwelithini’s comments a few years ago:

SOME BLACK LIVES MATTER

Hey brother mine
When next you decry those Afro-pessimists
Or reach for your “blame apartheid” card
Or feign victim hurt for what colonialists wrought
Remember this day, the day of Goodwill

Activist you
When next you petition me to march
Behind your banner declaring “black lives matter”
Because some African American’s been shot
Remember this day, as I turn and walk away

And you, you braided Model-C poet
With your naïve Mother Africa poems
Drowning in a river of Congo blood
I vomit at your impotent words

As for you, taxman
When next you tax me another Madiba statue
Whose “never and never again” echoes hollow
Across this murderous land
I shall be first to tear it down

You better-lives-for-some
When you have done with your semantic dance of denial
Spare me your empty Ubuntu bullshit
Save me from your social cohesion crap
It is a necklace burning our Zimbabwean
Mozambican
Somalian
Neighbours that speaks for you

You so-called leaders
Whose sons grow fat on African mines
Whose daughters parade their African art
Whose spouses bedeck your tables with African cloth
While you serve African bodies on skewers of hate

Here
Take my passport
Its pages are full
They are stamped with shame