South Africa, 2 May 2015

On 23 April 2015, the “THE PEOPLE’S MARCH” against xenophobia took place in the city centre of Johannesburg.  The march started at Pieter Roos Park in Hillbrow, and proceeded through the Johannesburg central business district, ending at the Mary Fitzgerald Square off in Newtown.

2015 xenophobia march 23 March Johannesburg

Man in chains, photograph by Iranti


The march was organised and supported by human rights organisations, LGBTI organisations, refugee organisations, government officials, trade unions, educational institutions and many more. People were out in their numbers in solidarity with foreign nationals to say “NO TO XENOPHOBIA”.


The march was attended by everyone who cared to show their solidarity against the attacks that has gripped many cities in South Africa over the past few weeks.


LGBTI organisations were visible in this march. They sang struggle songs, and held high placards and banners with messages such as: “STOP homophobia, xenophobia and transphobia” and “We stand against all forms of violence and discrimination happening to all human beings”. The queer community’s visibility at the march strongly linked the intersections of xenophobia and homophobia and transphobia.


Iranti poster being carried at the 23 March Johannesburg march agains xenophobia

Marches, carrying the Iranti poster. Photograph by Iranti


The Gauteng Premier, David Makhura condemned the attacks and said, “We are going to defeat xenophobia, like we defeated apartheid,” and, “Xenophobia is not going to succeed in this country,” he said. During the Premier’s speech, people chanted and sang in isiZulu, “Iagenda ka King Zwelithini asiyifuni, yabulala umAfrica” which translates as, “We don’t want King Zwelithini’s agenda; it killed an African.”


Martin Janyure from Zimbambwe, shared his views about the recent spate of attacks: “I really appreciate this engagement from South African people, who understand where we come from. However, I can’t bring back the lives of my brothers and sisters who were brutally murdered for nothing. I am in pain but thank you to those who are supporting us.”


At Mary Fitzgerald Square, officials relayed messages of condolences. The crowd continued chanting and singing, “We are against xenophobia; No to xenophobia; We are all brothers and sisters.”


Reverend Ketso Mbande from the South African Council of Churches said that, “looting and killing won’t solve any of our problems in this country; the church of justice sees all human beings as an image of God, and therefore if you discriminate or kill people, you are abolishing God himself,” said Mbande.


LGBTIAQ community wants hate crimes legislation for all maginalised groups and they are demanding it now. That’s the only way hate crimes can be regulated and be recorgnised as motivation for these killings said Kokeletso Legoete, Media and Advocacy Coordinator at Iranti.


A follow up March has been planned in May.


Article written by Dikeledi Sibanda is a media fellow based at Iranti and is currently studying media studies at Boston Media House.