At a speech during Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini’s imbizo on xenophobia in Durban on 20 April, South African President Jacob Zuma criticized the press for publishing pictures showing the murder of Mozambican Emanual Sithole. Speaking in Zulu, Zuma suggested that it is patriotic to hide news from the world.
This is nothing new. Last year an ANC official called on expats in Australia to stop leaking news on social media because it negatively affects the country’s reputation. South Africa’s main stream media is generally very compliant and drastically under reports on the violence in the country. This was helped by the recent closure of The South African Press Association (SAPA), the country’s only independent news agency responsible for incoming and outgoing news reports.
Last week’s xenophobic unrest which virtually paralyzed the nation was reported around the world with the accompanying graphic visuals. The police responded to the photos of Emanual Sithole being murdered by immediately offering a R100 000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the murderers. Three of the suspects have already appeared in court and a fourth is being sought. This is an uncharacteristically quick and successful response by the police who have a pitifully poor arrest record with relatively few successful prosecutions.
In response to the attacks on Zimbabwean Nationals, most of whom who were working in South Africa because of the desperate economic situation in their own country, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has said he is revolted by the xenophobic attacks in South Africa. His comments made on 18 April have raised some eyebrows as just a week before while on a State visit to SA Mugabe told a crowd of media and spectators “I don’t want to see a white face”. This was aimed at a lone white journalist who was among the press contingent.
The xenophobic rhetoric by the two African leaders and the sudden eagerness of the police to secure arrests to the point of offering a large reward has been motivated by the world attention. This response is in stark contrast to the often careless attitude to the daily horrific torture and murder of members of the small white minority in South Africa. Even the most horrendous of these crimes seldom even rates a mention in the mainstream media ensuring the outside world is left in the dark about the growing problem.
The latest gruesome attack was the gang rape and murder of 86-year-old nun, Sister Gertrud Tiefenbacher on April 20 2015. The Austrian immigrant‚ who had been with the mission for 60 years‚ was found in her quarters at the Sacred Heart Missionary in rural KwaZulu Natal. Her hands were tied and a towel was over her face. Police are adamant the motivation was robbery although they admit only a small amount of cash was stolen. When robbery is the motive it can then be labeled an “ordinary crime”. No reward has been offered for information on her killers although the police have asked the community to come forward with any information.
It is a bit more difficult to find an acceptable motive for the murder of 74-year-old Scottish-born Sandra Malcolm. She was found on April 20th hacked to death and mutilated in her flat but nothing was stolen. There is also the April 21st case of 62-year-old Allan Clarke who was stripped naked and bludgeoned to death so viciously that parts of his scalp with hair attached to it and pieces of his teeth were found in his blood-splattered vehicle. His tongue was also ripped out. Not a day goes by that these senseless, horrific attacks take place and the leadership’s only response is to keep quiet and promote the myth of the peaceful “Rainbow Nation”.
The world should be horrified at the pictures depicting the xenophobic murder of Emmanuel Sithole but simply typing into Google Images “south african whites murdered” will tell a graphic story that will make the average horror movie look like a picnic.