On Tuesday 22 September, the #23SeptemberCleanSA was at the top of the Twitter trends list.
The hashtag bore its name from the Put South Africans First movement which vowed to march to the Nigerian and Zimbabwean embassies on Wednesday 23 September in a bid to have foreigners deported back to their countries.
The movement has claimed that foreigners contribute to South Africa’s social ills such as drugs and human trafficking and child abductions. As promised, the march kicked off on Wednesday morning in Pretoria’s Church Square.
The movement, in a statement, called on South Africans to gather in the march while a memorandum of demands would be delivered to the Nigerian and Zimbabwean Embassies.
It said it would request the repatriation of their citizens, “the majority of whom happen to be illegal immigrants in violation of the Immigration Act.”
“We are extremely concerned about the state of our country and the safety of women and children who are the most vulnerable victims of the criminal activities which have skyrocketed over the years to alarming levels due to deliberate porous borders which continue to absorb international criminals,” the movement said.
The Put South Africans First movement said issues of human trafficking and sex slavery syndicates, railway infrastructure looting, drug peddling, violent crimes including the scourge of farm murders would all be addressed during the march.
“We would like to urge South Africans of all races and backgrounds to join the march in a bid to fight for our country. It is our responsibility to make our nation a better place,” it said.
WHO IS PART OF THE MOVEMENT?
The South African spoke to Sonke Public Forum’s (SPF) National Coordinator Freeman Bhengu. He said the Put South Africans First Movement is essentially a group of various organisations who are standing together in solidarity for one common cause. He also said it is calling for a “blanket deportation” of all foreigners in South Africa.
Bhengu, who said he came up with Wednesday’s date for the march, said some of the organisations that are involved are the SPF, the African Transformation Movement (ATM), the Action for Change Movement and the South African First Movement (SAF).
“All of us are in collaboration, we have one agenda, which is putting South Africans first,” said Bhengu.
Bhengu said the march is not a xenophobic march but is rather about proper border management and control as there are eight million illegal foreigners in the country. Concerned, Bhengu asked who is providing employment, housing and medical services for the illegal foreigners.
Bhengu also said the problem stems from the African National Congress (ANC) as prior to 1994, “there was no problem”. He said that the issue of illegal foreigners are linked to problems such as drugs, child abductions, prostitution and unemployment.
When asked why the march was geared towards the Nigerian and Zimbabwean embassies specifically, he said they are not targeting those embassies in particular.
Bhengu said the marches will continue for the next few months, where concerned South Africans will approach a number of other embassies, such as the Mozambican and Chinese embassies.
ONLY ONE SA AIRS ITS VIEWS
When The South African asked whether the Only One SA movement was part of the South Africans First movement, Bhengu said South Africans are all standing up together for one common cause.
“We are aware of them, we are with them. We encourage everyone to join us,” said Bhengu.
A leader of the Only One SA movement spoke to eNCA on Wednesday morning. She said they were marching against human trafficking, child abductions and drugs.
Citing that there needs to be a clean South Africa, she told the broadcaster that if people think their march is xenophobic, they have a right to think so.
“I know the cause that I’ve started and it’s got nothing to do with xenophobia but it’s got everything to do with saving the small children.”
When asked why the Nigerian and Zimbabwean embassies were targeted specifically, she said Nigerians are known to be “top of the list”.
Enca’s Khaya James also spoke to the President of the Nigerian Union in South Africa. He said; “We want to sympathise with those who have been victims of crime [as] some of our compatriots, some of the foreign nationals are engaging in all sorts of criminal activities and that is a fact.”
He did, however, say that the crimes must not be fought with stereotyping because it puts the lives of everybody in danger.