20 Apr 2015

South Africa’s Zulu king condemns racist attacks

South Africa’s Zulu King Goodwill Zweluthini has condemned the deadly anti-immigrant attacks that have swept the country as “vile”.

Speaking today the popular and influential king also defended himself against local media reports that he contributed to the violence.

“We need to make sure no more foreigners are attacked. We must stop these vile acts.”

Foreign nationals complained police in South Africa failed to protect them over the past few weeks as a number of anti-immigrant protests became violent. At least seven people have been killed in the latest wave of attacks in the rainbow nation that is home to an estimated 5 million migrants.

Zimbabweans, Mozambicans, Malawians, Congolese, Somalia and Ethiopians have borne the brunt of the vicious aggression which included beats and burnings – some of which were captured on camera and then posted online. Thousands have been forced to flee their homes to refugee camps with official protection.

Read more: Burnt alive - violence against migrants in South Africa

Local media reported three weeks ago that the influential Zulu King said foreigners should leave South Africa. His reported comments appeared to resonate as the country struggles with stubbornly vast inequalities in wealth, high unemployment, poor services and crime.

Today King Zweluthini accused the local media group of taking his comments out of context and deliberately misquoting him. He said:

“The country has only been shown a portion of my speech, which has been selective. If it were true that I said ‘foreigners must go’ this country would be up in flames