Township areas are tinder boxes when it comes to xenophobia - photojournalist

Mamelodi residents are planning to march to the Department of Home Affairs against foreign nationals in South Africa.

A group calling itself 'The Mamelodi Concerned Residents' says they will go ahead as planned to have the march on Friday despite the Tshwane Metro Police declining their application for the march.

Magoka Leganyane, organizer of Mamelodi Concerned Residents says the march is not xenophobic, it's a peaceful march against illegal migrants.

But there are concerns about the rise of xenophobia.

Photojournalist James Oatway who captured the disturbing and graphic image of Emmanuel Sithole being stabbed to death in 2015.

Journalist Rebecca Davis quoted Oatway in Daily Maverick, as saying this recent flare up is part of 'an orchestrated xenophobic campaign taking place in Pretoria and no one is doing anything about it.'

Oatway shares his views with John Maytham.

Flyers for this march started circulating to my knowledge in early January and you don't have to be a rocket scientist to connect all the dots here.

James Oatway, photojournalist

I have it on quite good authority that the Mamelodi Concerned Residents tried to contact similar associations in other places such as Alexandra Township to support them and carry out marches too.

James Oatway, photojournalist

Mainly the township areas are tinder boxes when it comes to xenophobia.

James Oatway, photojournalist

Oatway says while the organisers claim the march will be a peaceful one, but he fears there may be some sort of repercussions and consequences like foreign shop owners becoming scapegoats and shops being looted.

Once a person joins a mob, that mob becomes an animal. It becomes something that is irrational and it is unable to distinguish between legitimate targets - if there is such a thing.

James Oatway, photojournalist

Now local government in the area and other civic-minded organisations say they are doing everything to prevent the march becoming violent, and Oatway says he hopes it will be enough.

He says as a photojournalist on the streets he has witnessed the violence and attacks happening and is very concerned.

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