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Ramaphosa Decries Attempts to Pit African, Indian Residents Against Each Other in Riots

© REUTERS / ROGAN WARDPeople stand with placards as South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visits a shopping centre which was damaged after several days of looting following the imprisonment of former South Africa President Jacob Zuma in Durban, South Africa, July 16, 2021.
People stand with placards as South African President Cyril Ramaphosa visits a shopping centre which was damaged after several days of looting following the imprisonment of former South Africa President Jacob Zuma in Durban, South Africa, July 16, 2021. - Sputnik International, 1920, 26.07.2021
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday pointed to deliberate attempts to incite interracial hatred in the country during unrest in the southeastern province of KwaZulu-Natal, which has recently seen a rise in tensions between African and Indian residents.
With the onset of protests over the incarceration of ex-President Jacob Zuma, relations between the African population and representatives of the Indian community in the town of Phoenix are reported to have sharply deteriorated. Indians organized self-defence units that allegedly blocked the entry of black Africans into the town centre and, in some cases, staged reprisals against them. Over the past several weeks, at least 20 people have been killed in the town.
"Much of the narrative around the events in Phoenix has been dominated by attempts to turn one race against another. It has been stoked by anonymous people on social media and in messaging groups making outrageous claims and calling for revenge ... They will not succeed. South Africa has a proud history of principled non-racialism and working-class solidarity. African and Indian communities were united in the struggle against apartheid and, together with other communities, remain committed to a united and democratic society," Ramaphosa said.
The president blamed the tensions on people trying to cause mayhem and pursue their own goals by presenting criminal acts in racial terms.
"In response to the fear and mistrust, the people of Phoenix and the neighbouring areas of Bhambayi, Zwelitsha, and Amaoti are working to repair the damage. Aided by a peace forum established by the South African Police Service in partnership with community leaders, the communities have come together to support those affected by the unrest and to open channels of dialogue," he noted.
Phoenix was created as a workers' settlement on a sugarcane farm. In 1904, Mahatma Gandhi, then living in Durban, founded the Phoenix settlement, near the border with today's city. With the Group Territories Act of 1950, Phoenix was reserved for Indians. They now make up 85% of its population.
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