‘Embrace the Indians’: Zulu King asks his people to stop riots after Zuma jailed

Zulu King Misuzulu KaZwelithini has called for the violence and looting between Zulus and Indians to come to an end with “immediate effect,” news agency PTI reported.

KaZwelithini’s address to the Zulus on live television came on Wednesday afternoon, even as the rampant violence across the KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa continued for the sixth day. “Our Indian brothers are our neighbours and we have the second biggest population of Indians in KwaZulu-Natal outside of India and through that, we have had certain people who have come to us to say thank you to the Zulu nation and to the Zulu royal family that you are living with our Indian brothers in peace,” he was quoted as saying by PTI.

The Zulu King appealed to his people to “embrace the Indians” because they share a land with them and also called for peace.

The looting and violence started off as a protest against the 15-month imprisonment of the former president of South Africa Jacob Zuma – also of Zulu descent, for contempt of court. South African government agencies and ministers on Wednesday said that the violence and looting was no longer about Zuma’s jailing, but organised by people with different vested interests, PTI reported.

Notably, police and army called in by president Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday were also unable to control the violence that also saw the committing of arson by thousands of people. Several groups of people, mostly armed, have been mobilising – primarily in Indian suburbs across South Africa and the port city of Durban, to oppose attacks and looting that has caused several Indian-owned businesses and factories, among those, to be completely destroyed.

Addressing the Zulu people’s dissatisfaction with the imprisonment of Zuma, KaZwelithini on Wednesday said that violence is “not the right way of expressing” it. “It creates a picture of people who have lost their dignity,” he added, as per the PTI report.

KaZwelithini said that the incidents have brought “great shame” to the Zulu people as “fingers are pointed at my father’s people”. Notably, he took the crown three months ago after the passing of his parents within weeks of each other.

The Zulu King pointed out that it was unexpected for him to see his “own people so complicit” in “burning down” South Africa. “I must appeal to all of us to take a great step back and consider the damage that is being done by our own actions,” KaZwelithini said, adding that he “fully understands” the depression born of poverty and joblessness.

The King also said that the destruction would largely affect the poor people as significant supply chains of medicine and food have been ripped off owing to the ongoing violence at the crucial time of Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the PTI report, senior former intelligence officers and other politicians loyal to Zuma, who have all not been charged or named yet, are being probed for being instigators of the violence.

KaZwelithini’s remarks came as the death toll in South Africa from riots rose up to 72 on Tuesday, with several losing their lives by getting trampled during looting at stores. Over 1,200 people have till now been apprehended in the lawlessness that has even caused some Covid-19 vaccination centres to shut down, PTI reported.

In a statement on Tuesday night, police major general Mathapelo Reters said that as many as 27 deaths in KwaZulu-Natal province and 45 in Gauteng province were probed. Additionally, police were probing explosion-caused deaths from when people attempted to break into ATM machines as well as other loss of lives triggered by shootings, as per the PTI report.