Dressed in fatigues and a bulletproof vest, Nhlanhla “Lux” Mohlauli brought together the frustrations of ordinary South Africans into a new militant anti-immigrant movement.
Nhlanhla Lux Mohlauli of Operation Dudula poses for a portrait at his home in Pimville, Soweto on April 22, 2022.
SOWETO — Dressed in fatigues and a bulletproof vest, Nhlanhla “Lux” Mohlauli has brought together the frustrations of ordinary South Africans into a new militant anti-immigrant movement.
Called Operation Dudula, which means “Repel” in Zulu, the movement has since January given a new level of organization to the xenophobic violence that has ravaged South Africa for years.
Swift but professional protests have drawn thousands onto the streets of Johannesburg, stoking anger over rising crime and unemployment against foreigners living in the country.
“The goal is simple: to fight criminal elements in our communities,” Mohlauli told AFP. “And it turns out that the majority of crime problems come from illegal aliens.”
He was born in Soweto but says he attended “the wealthiest white schools”.
On the top floor of his Soweto home, he takes calls non-stop as a small entourage seems comfortable in a home that has a gym, sauna and, he says, a cache of weapons.
Officially, four million foreigners live in South Africa. But the government has no reliable estimate of the number of people who do not have visas.
Unemployment is at a record 35%, but it is even higher among blacks, women and young people. Yet the dream of wealth in the continent’s most advanced economy continues to attract migrants.
In March, Mohlauli was arrested for burglary. For him, it is not a transgression, but a tactic. One of Dudula’s strategies is to raid houses based on reports that thieves or drug dealers are inside.
These tips come from closed messaging groups that have hundreds of members who greet each other in military terms.
“The South African police are always appealing to anyone with information about any crime,” a police source told AFP. “We are not going to name or confirm anyone who gives information to SAPS as we guarantee confidentiality.”
Things don’t always turn out that way. A man was killed in early April in a township north of Johannesburg, where police said activists knocked on doors demanding to see residents’ visas.
Elvis Nyathi, a 44-year-old Zimbabwean, attempted to flee. He was burned alive.
Two weeks later, members of Operation Dudula organized a patrol to prevent the theft of electrical cables. Chronic cable theft is one of the causes of recurrent power outages in South Africa.
But that evening, gunfire broke out, killing one and injuring six.
“All of the victims are believed to be South Africans. The nationalities of the suspects have not yet been determined as they had no proof of identity,” police said.
Such incidents raise fears that violence could spread. In 2008, 62 people were killed in anti-immigrant riots. Further episodes of violence erupted in 2015, 2016 and again in 2019.
BIGGER AND HEALTHIER
Scholarships and sports helped Mohlauli get through college and into golf. He says he’s made enough money playing golf and he doesn’t need to work anymore.
His mother ensured that he received a good education. She cleaned white-owned stores and made sure he attended the same schools as their children.
“I’ve seen kids carrying lunch boxes way bigger and healthier than anything my own family would eat in the evening,” he said.
His first big moment in the spotlight came during the riots that broke out in July, when more than 350 people were killed. He organized his community to defend a mall in Soweto from looters.
His own videos of this effort went viral and an interview was replayed on news stations for days.
“Nhlanhla says what we want to hear. We want someone bold enough to say ‘close the borders’,” said one of his supporters, Thabang Moloi, 54.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has warned of Dudula’s methods, saying the requirement for public identification is akin to apartheid-era pass laws that restricted the movement of black people.
But Mohlauli seems unrepentant.
“We were ambushed by foreigners in South Africa,” he said.
South Africa’s woes fueled the rise of anti-immigrant leader Lux Mohlauli
Source link South Africa’s woes fueled the rise of anti-immigrant leader Lux Mohlauli