'Unacceptable' that King Zwelithini 'fobbed off' xenophobia task team - DA

King Goodwill Zwelithini and his Zulu warriors celebrate the annual Umkhosi Wokweshwama ceremony. (Gallo)

King Goodwill Zwelithini and his Zulu warriors celebrate the annual Umkhosi Wokweshwama ceremony. (Gallo)

The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Thursday said it was concerned by reports that Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini “fobbed off” a task team initiated by KZN Premier Senzo Mchunu to probe last year’s wide-spread xenophobic violence in the province.

The team, headed by Judge Navi Pillay, had posed questions to the King following claims that his utterances at a Pongola event had sparked the violence.

According to reports, the King failed to respond on the basis that he had already responded to queries from the Human Rights Commission which was also conducting a probe.

Zwelithini was severely criticised in March last year after he made xenophobic comments. He reportedly said:

“[W]e talk of people [South Africans] who do not want to listen, who do not want to work, who are thieves, child rapists and house breakers…. When foreigners look at them, they will say let us exploit the nation of idiots.
As I speak you find their unsightly goods hanging all over our shops, they dirty our streets. We cannot even recognise which shop is which, there are foreigners everywhere.” 

“I ask our government to help us to fix our own problems, help us find our own solutions. We ask foreign nationals to pack their belongings and go back to their countries.”

Constitutional law expert Pierre de Vos wrote in April last year that Zwelithini’s comments qualify as hate speech under current South African legislation. 

The King subsequently lambasted the media for “choosing to deliberately distort” what he had said. 

The DA said Zwelithini’s apparent failure to cooperate with the investigation was “unacceptable”.

“As a beneficiary of public funds the King had a duty to respond to the Premier’s task team,” said Sizwe Mchunu, the leader of the DA in the KZN Legislature.

“Lives were lost and thousands displaced during the violence and it is critical that every avenue is investigated in order to prevent a repeat of such discord.”

Mchunu said the DA was committed to this process.

“We will request that a full copy of Judge Pillay’s report is made available to members at the next portfolio committee meeting for the Office of the Premier. It is essential that all stakeholders in the province are committed to accountability.”

The Royal Household could not be immediately reached for comment. – African News Agency (ANA)

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