Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini on Monday said it was important for him to hold an urgent imbizo following the spate of attacks on foreign nationals in KwaZulu-Natal last week.
“It was important for me to intervene because this was a crisis,” he told a crowd at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
Zwelithini said in the past 44 years as king he had learnt a lot about respecting elders.
“If you want to be respected one day as a leader, you need to learn to be a good listener.
“I am speaking today as your father. I want to thank Amakhosi and Izinduna for coming out at such short notice.”
The king said the last two months reminded him of the Rwandan genocide.
“This was the worst massacre in history… It showed the role played by the media and the political leaders in the killing.
“In 2015, we woke up to the news of the Kenyan killings. We are heartbroken as the Zulu monarch. It was reported that 147 people were killed.
“To bring it back home, we know that foreign nationals have been displaced in the last three weeks,” he said.
“What’s shameful is that this is not the first time,” he said referring to the xenophobia attacks in 2008.
“I want to emphasise this because it appears as though this is only happening to foreign nationals from African countries… In 2008, more than 62 people lost their lives. The Human Rights Commission in 2009 released information that these attacks began in Gauteng and then spread to other sections in South Africa…I say this because South Africa has previously been warned by the Human Rights Commission.”
Zwelithini said that what happened in Durban last week showed that the country had not learnt from the past.
“The violence is said to have emanated from the speech I delivered in Pongola.
“People who were in Pongola have not killed anyone and nor is Pongola on fire today. I believe what I said in Pongola needed no translation,” he said.
Zwelithini said the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) needed to be given time to conduct its investigation thoroughly and without intimidation.
“I’ve written two letters to the commission and have urged them to also investigate the media’s involvement in inciting violence.
“I believe that the media must open itself up to being investigated if they have nothing to hide.
“My speech in Pongola was addressed to the crime issues facing the country. Instead the nation has been told that I have said otherwise. This is funny. Even today, I’m still asking the media to write my entire speech. I want the media to write the entire speech from that day,” he said.
Zwelithini said the imbizo was not called because he had sparked the attacks, but because he knew that South Africa could beat this.
He said he was pleased that government had agreed with him that there was a “third force” that the country was trying to fight.
“It’s not a secret that there are some people using the King’s name.
“You all heard about the SMS about the Zulu’s wanting to attack foreign nationals, these are threats to try to begin a war amongst each other. These people are trying to start a war amongst Africans,” Zwelithini said.
“We also heard that some people are trying to cause war against the Zulus and the Indian people in South Africa. I called Amakhosi and Izinduna and you my people to be the ones to hold the shields that will fight off xenophobia.
“If I had declared war in this country, this country would have been in ashes. There will be a time when I declare war, that war is to protect people from all walks of life and foreign nationals.”
Addressing the Amakhosi and Izinduna, the king said he wanted them to be his eyes and ears on the ground in the communities.
“There are swear words being written about me and you my people. To you my people I am saying just let it go… Let us bury the hatchet. Some are saying that I should be prosecuted, I don’t know why I should be prosecuted because I have not committed any crime.”
He urged everyone to work together for peace and allow law enforcement agencies to deal with those who broke the law.
“We are a nation of peace. We know what it is like to be at war, we don’t want that. Peace must prevail.
“From today, I have sent Amakhosis out into their communities to talk to their communities to treat foreign nationals right.”
Speaking to foreign nationals, Zwelithini assured them that they would be protected.
“We want meetings to be called in the 30 days to address these issues.
“To the foreign nationals in South Africa, they should visit the traditional councils so that we can build relationships…The office of the Premier must hold a urgent meeting with your embassies so that we can bring about peace and commit ourselves to peace. We will do this under the KwaZulu-Natal Peace Process,” he said.
A peace accord would be signed with embassies.
“I will ask teachers at schools to teach school kids about xenophobia and how to treat foreign nationals.
“I also urge municipalities to clear the by-laws in the cities so that foreign nationals can work with our people.
“God bless Africa,” Zwelithini said.