Last Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi expressed concern about ongoing violence against other African nationals in South Africa.
Eight people have been killed in the latest spate of attacks. Minister Venson-Moitoi urged parents whose children are studying in South Africa to help by talking to them and discouraging them from moving about unnecessarily. “The situation is not safe and we are asking them to take precautions,” she said then. Meanwhile, Batswana in Durban, most of whom are students, find themselves marooned in the city.
Reports indicate the students have asked that Botswana government should evacuate them from South Africa, as they do not feel safe. The students cannot even leave their residences to buy airtime to talk to their anxious families.
Now the Botswana National Front Youth League (BNFYL) has made demands for the students to be brought back Botswana. When urging parents to talk to their children to stop moving about in South Africa’s violent hit areas, Minister Venson-Moitoi also urged Batswana to reduce travel to South Africa.
We agree with the BNFYL and the students. They should be evacuated immediately. This is because events such as those unfolding in South Africa tend to develop into further chaos, as other miscreants take advantage of the situation. None of the students should become a sacrifice before the government acts. Suffice to say, failure to evacuate the students may result in them trying to escape their residences, in which case they may fall prey to the criminals.
Government should act now and monitor the situation while the students are home. Today’s attitude of the Zulu community during their national meeting tells a different story from what the South African government is trying to tell us. They booed the Nigerian and Zimbabwean ambassadors. That shows emotions are still raw and harm lurks at every corner. We also agree with Minister Venson-Moitoi that Batswana should restrict travel to South Africa. This being end of term for most private schools is also travel time for families and schools. Granted, tickets would have been bought, and accommodation arrangements made for trips to South Africa. However given the current state of affairs, it is only logical to postpone such trips. We therefore urge parents, teachers, school clubs and tour groups to consider postposing such trips.
In the same vein, Batswana who frequently go to South Africa for shopping and vehicle servicing should consider waiting out the situation, or getting those services from home. We also note some careless talk that has been made, especially in social media, for other Africans to take revenge on South Africans by, among others, forcing the closure of their businesses, or boycotting those businesses.
Such reckless talk should be condemned in strongest of terms. The small group of thugs that attacked and killed foreigners in South Africa does not represent the rest of South Africa, most of which is bound by blood and history to Batswana and fellow Southern Africans, if not Africans at large.
“Our true nationality is mankind”