President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Photo by Mlungisi Louw/Volksblad/Gallo Images via Getty Images)
President Cyril Ramaphosa has condemned the actions of Operation Dudula, describing it as a “vigilante type” organisation whose actions are illegal and are likely to end in bloodshed.
Ramaphosa said the ruling ANC “cannot support” the organisation, which has been staging violent marches against crime and migration in different parts of Johannesburg with increasing regularity.
The president did so only days after the party’s spokesperson, Pule Mabe, last week condoned Operation Dudula’s actions and told Mail & Guardian the governing party welcomed such activity.
Dudula’s leader, Nhlanhla “Lux” Dlamini, is out on bail after being arrested for the assault of a Soweto man during a march by the vigilante group in which residents were forced out of their homes.
Ramaphosa made his intervention after addressing delegates to the ANC’s Mpumalanga provincial conference, saying that he was concerned about the rise of Operation Dudula and its illegal actions.
“We cannot support a vigilante-type of move against a group of people — and particularly targeting them as foreign nationals, because when we are doing then is just to divide our people on the African continent,” Ramaphosa said.
The president said he had expressed “the concerns that we have” over Operation Dudula, which he described as a “vigilante-like organisation, which is taking illegal action against people who they are targeting.”
Ramaphosa said such vigilante movements “often get out of hand” and “always mutate into wanton violence against other people”.
“We always act within the parameters of the law. If we are unhappy about anything not being done at state level, let us have it addressed’’.
Ramaphosa said that illegal immigration should be deal with “within the parameters of the law”.
“We have laws in this country and that is how we must deal with all those infractions,” he said.
Operation Dudula’s members have claimed its roots originate in the self-defence units set up by the ANC in the 1990s to defend people in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng against attacks by Inkatha — as the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) was then known — and the apartheid state’s military and police.
Members of the party’s Umkhonto weSizwe Military Veterans Association have also held violent marches, mainly in KwaZulu-Natal where it has forced migrants trading in Durban out of their stalls and shops. This was condemned by the ANC.