Updated: July 17, 2021 5:27:20 pm
Days after External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar spoke with his South African counterpart Naledi Pandor and expressed concern over the widespread violence and rioting in that country, President Cyril Ramaphosa on Friday said he has dispatched his police minister and the premier of KwaZulu Natal province to a township in Durban, amid escalating tensions between the Indian and Black communities there.
Tensions between the two communities in the township of Phoenix and surrounding areas were sparked by social media posts following the violence over the arrest of former President Jacob Zuma on July 7. Concerned by the violence, Jaishankar had on Wednesday spoken with Pandor, who assured him that her government was doing utmost to enforce law and order.
Ramaphosa was briefly in Ethekwini, a metropolitan municipality that includes the city of Durban and surrounding towns, to assess the situation following the continuing violence and looting in the region. However, he did not visit the suburbs of Phoenix and Pietermaritzburg, the provincial capital of KwaZulu-Natal, that have been most affected.
“The Minister of Police was on his way to Phoenix. Our local leaders — the Premier, the MEC’s (Members of the Executive Committee of the City) are going to have to deal with that type of situation,” Ramaphosa said.
“I wanted to go myself, but time now is of the essence. We are going to have a Cabinet meeting later, so I’m going to have to go back to Gauteng (province), but I’m here now, encouraging and holding the hands of both our people on the ground and also directing the security forces and getting them to go to those areas that are volatile at the moment.”
On Friday, the Indian High Commission in South Africa said Pandor on Wednesday, who has “asserted that the early restoration of normalcy and peace was her government’s overriding priority”.
“The High Commissioner of South Africa in New Delhi has also updated the Government of India on the situation,” the High Commission tweeted, adding that the Indian High Commission in Pretoria and consulates in Johannesburg and Durban are in contact with Indian community leaders and have offered support and assistance to distressed families.
Edited posts of Ethekwini Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda, manipulated to create a highly inflammatory message against Indians, also emerged on social media. In the original post, Kaunda had quoted someone else to call for all to exercise restraint, appealing for calm to prevail.
Police Minister Cele said he was confident that with the deployment of soldiers, law and order would be restored in Phoenix. Cele attributed the situation to criminals, and not those protesting the imprisonment of Zuma.
(With PTI inputs)
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