By Muchengeta Hwacha, Johannesburg intern
On 4 September 2019, Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) and the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) called an emergency meeting to address the spate of violence that had erupted against foreign nationals. Civil society, faith based organisations, trade unions and community leaders heeded the call and gathered at Constitution Hill. The large turnout was unexpected and the organisers were forced to change the venue twice to accommodate the numbers.
The gathering was eventually ushered into an open air courtyard of the former prison and a discussion ensued on how to tackle this fresh scourge of violence. Many shared various ideas on how to address the current challenges facing foreign nationals. The one idea that seemed to garner the most support was that of a march in the inner city to show support to the victims of the violence.
As a result, on 14 September the participants gathered again, this time bringing along a mass of supporters. An estimated 1 000 people marched from Joubert Park through Hillbrow and onto Mary Fitzgerald Square. The march seemed to strike a chord with the residents of Hillbrow, as some were seen weeping as they witnessed the march proceed under their windows and balconies. Given the level of trauma suffered by many in that community, their reaction was understandable but heartbreaking. The march proceeded with high levels of discipline from attendees. It was well covered by the media and well protected by the S A Police Services.