Vigilante group Operation Dudula is pressing on with its drive against immigrants in South Africa after one its leaders, Nhlanhla â€œLuxâ€ Dlamini, was released on bail on Monday.Â
Dlamini was let out on R1 500 bail and ordered to surrender his passport at the Roodepoort magistrateâ€™s court, in which he appeared after he was arrested for theft and defeating the ends of justice when Operation Dudula members allegedly raided the home of a Soweto resident, accusing him of selling drugs.
At least 200 people decked out in Operation Dudula regalia had protested near the gates of the court building, hours before Dlamini was due to appear. Police dressed in riot gear and armed with assault rifles maintained a heavy presence around the area. The police also limited the number of people who could attend the court proceedings, with some journalists barred from entering the court.
Police also barricaded the roads leading to the court precinct, limiting those wishing to go to the court building to one entry.Â
Dlamini was arrested after Soweto resident Victor Ramerafe laid a charge against him, with support from the Economic Freedom Fighters.Â
On Monday, Dlaminiâ€™s supporters chanted slogans against the EFF and sang struggle songs calling for the head of its leader, Julius Malema. Some carried a mock wooden coffin on which was affixed a picture of a Malema and a sign which read: â€œRest in peace Malema.â€
Dlamini said he had no issues with Malema. He also tore up the picture of Malema attached to the coffin. But Dlamini vowed to continue his drive to eradicate drugs from the streets of Soweto and encouraged his supporters to do the same in their respective townships.Â
Operation Dudula has in recent months acted against immigrants in Johannesburg, a drive that has resonated with mainly poor, angry South Africans who accuse them of stealing their jobs and committing crimes.
The vigilante groupâ€™s actions have sparked fears of an uptick in the xenophobia that has plagued South Africas, straining relations between President Cyril Ramaphosaâ€™s government and those of other countries, such as Nigeria.
The African Centre for Migration and Society says there have been more than 40 attacks on immigrants in eight of the past 13 years.
On Monday, Dlamini, who was flanked by Patriotic Alliance leader Kenny Kunene, said Operation Dudula had resonated in other parts of the country. Patriotic Alliance supporters were among the protesters outside the court, calling for illegal immigrants to leave South Africa. Also in the crowd were those claiming to be members of former Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashabaâ€™s Action SA party; others indicated they were with the Congress of South African Students.
Operation Dudula secretary general Zandile Dabula said groups such as Operation Fake Mthetho and Soweto Parliament, which the South African Human Rights Commission slammed for releasing a video featuring Dlamini warning immigrants not to open new spaza shops in Soweto, had also collaborated in Operation Dudulaâ€™s programme.
She said: â€œTomorrow we are going to Pretoria in Rosslyn to fight for jobs. We have over 5 000 jobs that must be opened in Rosslyn. â€œWe are visiting BMW â€¦ and there is Nissan who hired 100% foreign nationals. This is what we are fighting for. If we can all go out in numbers, we will have a big impact.â€