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Africa: Rights Progress for Pregnant Students – The Maravi Post

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Five More Sub-Saharan Countries Act to Protect Girls’ Education; Barriers Remain

NAIROBI, Kenya, September 30, 2021 -/African Media Agency(AMA)/- African countries have taken important steps in recent years to protect the right to education of pregnant students and adolescent mothers, Human Rights Watch said today.

Since 2019, at least five sub-Saharan African countries – MozambiqueZimbabweSierra LeoneUganda, and São Tomé e Príncipe – have either revoked restrictive or discriminatory policies or adopted laws or policies that allow pregnant students and adolescent mothers to stay in school under certain conditions.

“More African governments are taking stronger actions to support the rights of girls to education,” said Elin Martinez, senior children’s rights researcher at Human Rights Watch. “But many girls still have to fight against enormous government-imposed barriers that deny them their right to education and make schools turn their backs on them when they most need support.”

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to an increase in teenage pregnancies in many African countries, according to United Nations, media, and civil society reports. This increase could be linked to prolonged school closures – all African countries closed their schools in 2020 – and lack of remote learning opportunities during the pandemic, the lack of protective environments, and the loss of access to sexual and reproductive health services.

At least 30 African Union (AU) countries now have laws, policies, or strategies to protect pregnant students and adolescent mothers’ right to education. Sierra Leone reversed its policy in 2020, lifting a discriminatory ban against pregnant schoolgirls and teenage mothers and adopting a more robust inclusive education policy.

202109africa_pregnancy_exclusion_map
© 2021 John Emerson / Human Rights Watch

In March 2021 Sierra Leone adopted a policy of “Radical Inclusion” that reaffirms pregnant girls and adolescent mothers’ right to education. It also provides that girls can stay in school during their pregnancy and return to school when they are ready, without imposing burdensome conditions, mandatory maternity leave, or restrictions for their return.

In March 2020 São Tomé e Príncipe revoked a ministerial decree that required pregnant students to study in night-shift schools after the third month of pregnancy and for its duration. This action was tied to a World Bank majority-funded US$15 million grant for the country’s strategy to improve quality education and accelerate girls’ education.

In December 2020 Uganda introduced revised guidelines on pregnancy prevention and management in schools. The policy affirms the right to education of students who are pregnant or are parents, though it places numerous conditions on enrollment. It mandates schools to prioritize readmitting mothers and girls after pregnancy and provides redress for children and parents when public schools refuse to enroll them. It also gives schools guidance to tackle stigma, discrimination, and violence against students who are pregnant or are parents.

However, it also sets out a series of strict “reentry” conditions, including requiring girls to drop out when they are three-months pregnant, and to take a mandatory six-month maternity leave. Human Rights Watch previously found that some of these conditions constitute an effective barrier, particularly as girls will be required to stay out of school for up to a year. The policy relies on effectively compulsory periodic pregnancy testing to detect and prevent pregnancies, violating girls’ rights to privacy, equality, and bodily autonomy.

In 2019 Zimbabwe reformed its Education Act to include a provision that prohibits excluding pregnant students from school. The act also protects students from discrimination on the grounds of marital status, among nearly 20 protected grounds.

In December 2018 Mozambique revoked a national decree that required pregnant students to study in night-shift schools. The government has not yet adopted a policy that ensures girls’ right to remain in school, though, or prescribes how schools should now manage pregnant students and adolescent mothers.

Although Kenya has two older policies that set out conditions for an adolescent mother’s “unconditional” readmission to school, in 2020 the government adopted national reentry guidelines for students who face educational barriers and drop out of school, including due to pregnancy. The policy clarifies that pregnant students can remain in school for as long as possible, and are expected to reenter school at least six months after delivery, at the beginning of the next calendar year.

However, three AU countries still adhere to policies that bar pregnant girls and teenage mothers from going to school. Tanzania maintains an official ban on pregnant students and adolescent mothers in public schools, which was strengthened during the presidency of the late John Magufuli.

Pregnant girls are arbitrarily denied the right to study in public primary and lower secondary schools. Adolescent mothers can only study in “alternative education pathways,” a large-scale national education program funded with a $500 million loan from the World Bank. This loan raised concerns regarding the World Bank’s broader commitment to implementing its Environmental and Social Framework, which guarantees that bank loans will not be used to further discrimination, and that World Bank funds will not be used to undermine marginalized groups.

The World Bank should work with governments to move education systems toward full inclusion and accommodation of all girls in public schools, including those who are pregnant or parents. It should use its leverage to work with African governments to remove discriminatory or problematic policies that undermine education progress for all children, and encourage all governments to adopt inclusive, rights-respecting policies, Human Rights Watch said.

Governments that took important, bold steps to remove restrictions and discriminatory provisions in their laws and policies should go one step further and adopt positive measures that fully promote girls’ right to education and that obligate schools to include and support students who are pregnant or parents, Human Rights Watch said. All governments should ensure that their education systems do not discriminate and consider policy revisions to promote girls’ rights to education and their sexual and reproductive rights, including comprehensive sexuality education.

“Numerous African countries are demonstrating leadership in safeguarding every girl’s right to education,” Martinez said. “The African Union should press all African countries to adopt measures to ensure that all schools and government officials have guidance and examples of good practice on creating inclusive public schools where all girls, including those who are pregnant or adolescent mothers, can complete their primary and secondary education.”

Teenage Pregnancies, School Closures During Covid-19 Pandemic

Pre-pandemic, sub-Saharan African countries had the highest adolescent birth rates in the world. The management of the Covid-19 pandemic in many African countries frequently led to prolonged school closures, widespread lack of remote learning options, and limited access to safe spaces for young people. These conditions exacerbated sexual and gender based violence, and significantly disrupted children and young adults’ access to key sexual and reproductive health servicespotentially contributing to increases in teenage pregnancies.

Countries in East and Southern Africa have registered high rates of teenage pregnancies. A study of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, led by MIET Africa, a regional organization, shows that between October 2020 and February 2021, six SADC countries – Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe – have all recorded high rates of child, early and forced marriages, early pregnancies, and school dropouts.

Increases in teenage pregnancies reported were linked to poverty leading to transactional sex, lack of access to sexual and reproductive health services, and an increase in sexual violence. Three out of five students surveyed lost access during the pandemic to important sexual and reproductive health services, including to health checkups, condoms and other contraceptives, and anti-retroviral treatment. One out of five youths surveyed was aware of at least one pregnant girl or a young mother under 24 who had given birth during the past six months.

In South Africa, teenage pregnancy rates increased nationally, and in most provinces, from April 2020 and March 2021, compared with previous years. Seven out of nine South African provinces reported higher delivery rates among girls and young women ages 10 to 19, compared with the previous year, according to data from the Department of Basic Education. Gauteng province registered more than 23,000 pregnancies of girls ages 10 to 19, according to data published by the province’s Department of Health.

In Zimbabwe, a parliamentary report to the Senate on August 19 observed that prolonged school closures due to Covid-19 contributed to a “sharp increase” in teenage pregnancies. The Ministry of Women Affairs, Community, Small and Medium Enterprises Development reported that during January and February 2021, close to 5,000 students were pregnant, and over 1,770 were forced into marriages.

Recent Reforms in Africa

Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in Africa, with profound consequences for girls’ education: in 2017, 30 percent of women ages 20 to 24 had a live birth before they turned 18. An estimated 20 percent of girls drop out of school due to pregnancy and child marriage, according to government data.

In March 2020 Sierra Leone revoked its 10-year-old ban on public school attendance for pregnant girls and teenage mothers following a decision against the country by the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Sierra Leone had been one of four African countries Human Rights Watch found to have a policy barring pregnant students from public schools. In December 2019 the court ruled that the ban was discriminatory and ordered the government to revoke it. The court also found that Sierra Leone’s separate alternative education scheme for pregnant students, with reduced classes and school days, was discriminatory.

In March 2021 Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education adopted a “Policy on Radical Inclusion in Schools,” reinforcing pregnant girls and adolescent parents’ right to education, and outlining conditions for their “continuation” in education.

Sierra Leone’s new policy protects a girl’s right to “remain in school, in her current class, for as long as she chooses before giving birth, and to return to school after delivery or loss of the child.” It also states that girls have a “right of protected absence from school for one year after giving birth or miscarrying,” providing girls with a choice to take maternity leave, rather than imposing compulsory maternity leave. The policy says girls should be supported to make up for lost lessons and have the right to take examinations, and are able to delay school examinations until such a time as they are physically and psychologically able to take them.

As part of its strategy to prevent teenage pregnancies, the policy commits to ensuring that the curriculum includes “different components” of comprehensive sexuality education, and to facilitate adolescents’ access to sexual and reproductive health services.

Uganda

Teenage pregnancy, parenthood, and child marriage are a major health and social concern in Uganda and constitute a significant barrier for girls’ education. According to national and UN data, 25 percent of girls and women ages 15 to 19 have begun childbearing, 34 percent of girls are married before age 18, and over 7 percent before age 15. According to UNICEF, 25 percent of the 1.2 million pregnancies recorded in Uganda annually are in adolescent girls, with more than 300,000 pregnancies ending in unsafe abortions.

Between March 2020 and June 2021, UNICEF reported a 23 percent increase in pregnancy among girls ages 10 to 24 seeking prenatal care. Many girls drop out of school permanently once they become parents, due in part to stigma in schools, the lack of support and accommodation for students who are parents, and financial barriers. School fees and other costs in public schools constitute a significant barrier for Uganda’s most economically vulnerable and poorest families, most of whom have faced financial hardship as a result of Covid-19 restrictions that prevented many adults from working.

In December 2020 Uganda’s Ministry of Education published its “Revised Guidelines for the prevention and management of teenage pregnancy in school settings,” providing a policy framework to clarify schools’ roles.

The revised guidelines include important policy reforms. They provide an unequivocal message that “all schools should prioritize the admission of the young mothers/girls after pregnancy and parents/caregivers shall report the school that has refused to admit their daughter to the district education officer.” This provision is crucial for education authorities to ensure that all schools recognize their obligation to re-enrol adolescent mothers and provide redress for children and parents when public schools refuse re-enrollment. The Ugandan government should widely promote this aspect of the policy, and disseminate information about girls’ education through community awareness and national campaigns.

Under the policy, once schools are notified or find out that a student is pregnant, they should ensure that the student is placed in a counselling program. Head teachers are to take measures to investigate and report allegations of sexual violence. The policy also says that stigma and discrimination against pregnant girls or young mothers is a form of psychological violence, and orders schools to counter such stigma and violence in school environments. The policy stipulates that schools “shall support adolescent mothers to link to community support structures for childcare, and economic support.” The guidelines also provide flexibility to allow students who are out on maternity leave to take end-of-year examinations should they wish to, but it remains compulsory for students to take national qualifying examinations.

Although the guidelines support girls’ right to education, they present a series of strict or burdensome “re-entry” conditions that, Human Rights Watch had previously found, could constitute an effective barrier for girls. For example, the guidelines require girls to go on mandatory maternity leave when they are at least three-months’ pregnant. They can only be unconditionally readmitted when their child is at least six months old. This means girls will effectively be out of school for at least a year.

The policy makes parents responsible for seeking a girl’s readmission. Parents are expected to sign an agreement with the school about the girl’s re-entry. This assumes that parents are largely supportive of girls’ continuing education, whereas some families may try to bar girls from returning to school, particularly in cases of child marriage.

Male students responsible for a student’s pregnancy will also be given mandatory leave during a girl’s pregnancy, citing that this “might act as a deterrent and lesson to other boys.” However, unlike girls, boys are not subject to mandatory paternity leave, and will be allowed to return to school after a girl has delivered. In the case of a school change, schools are expected to share information on a male student’s parenthood status with the new school, because this would be “useful in tracking him.”

Data on any students’ pregnancy or parenthood status should respect their right to privacy, Human Rights Watch said. It should only be shared confidentially in school records as a means to support a student, to provide adequate counselling and access to services, and to accommodate their individual needs.

The guidelines state that the government’s aim to prevent teenage pregnancies through a series of measures, including problematic measures like relying on periodic pregnancy testing in schools, as well as testing all female students to avoid individual stigma against a girl who is reported or rumored to be pregnant. Human Rights Watch has found that pregnancy testing is not a preventive tool. It is stigmatizing for many girls, is often carried out without their consent, and is a serious infringement of girls’ rights to privacy, dignity, equality, and bodily autonomy.

São Tomé e Príncipe

In 2019, 22 percent of young women in São Tomé e Príncipe had given birth by age 18, of whom 5 percent had given birth before the age of 15, according to UNICEF data. Thirty-five percent of girls are married by age 18 between 2005 and 2019, according to the UN Population Fund.

Teenage pregnancies are closely tied to widespread sexual and gender-based violence, as well as entrenched abusive practices like the sexual exploitation of girls by adult men, including teachers, in exchange for grades, money or basic items, particularly at the Secondary school level.

In 2012 one of the last years where data is available, 86 percent of pregnant adolescent girls dropped out of primary and secondary school. A national study showed that pregnancy was among the top reasons why girls dropped out, contributing to worrying levels of transition into, and retention in, secondary education.

In March 2020 São Tomé e Príncipe removed a nearly 15-year restriction that blocked thousands of adolescent girls from secondary education. São Tomé e Príncipe’s Disciplinary Regulations for Basic, Secondary and Professional Education of 2006, in article 36, required pregnant students to drop out of schools at the third month of their pregnancy, and only gave them an option to enroll in night schools for the remainder of the pregnancy. Students could re-enroll the following academic year, provided that the student’s age was in line with compulsory education age limits. The same conditions were enforceable for boys responsible for a student’s pregnancy.

Education Minister Julieta Rodrigues signed a ministerial decree ordering the effective removal of article 36 from the Disciplinary Regulations. The decree cites its compliance with agreements made under the “Girls Empowerment and Quality Education for All Project,” a combined World Bank and Global Partnership for Education grant of $15 million to increase girls’ access to quality secondary education.

However, the government has yet to initiate a process to adopt measures that confirm a girl’s right to stay in school, and to provide clear guidance to schools on their obligations to enroll and support students who are pregnant or are parents.

The World Bank’s project documents show the Bank’s ability to use its unique leverage, and that of other donors and development partners, to negotiate the removal of São Tomé e Príncipe’s exclusionary practice against pregnant students. It states that the project:

leverages a change in legislation which allows pregnant girls to attend regular schooling, which they were previously barred from doing by school level regulation. This change in the internal regulation of schools was possible due to strong World Bank and other donor policy dialogue, including advocacy and stakeholder consultations, during the preparation of this project.

The World Bank said that the:

change in the internal regulation provides a great opportunity not only to get girls back to school and stay in school, but to jump-start interventions that will lead to behavioral change in the medium to longer term.

Tanzania

The World Bank estimates that 5,500 pregnant students stop going to school every year in Tanzania, although previous estimates indicated that close to 8,000 students have been forced to drop out of school each year.

In 2019 and 2020 the World Bank approved a $500 million loan for Tanzania’s Secondary Education Quality Improvement Program, despite the government’s policy of expelling pregnant students and adolescent mothers from school. By approving the loan to Tanzania, the World Bank effectively endorsed a discriminatory ban, which further cements exclusion and loss of education for thousands of girls in the country.

After initial pressure from the World Bank, the government agreed to allow adolescent mothers to enroll in Alternative Education Pathways, a parallel system of education taught in folk development centers, community-based education centers that are set up to teach technical and vocational education and accelerated adult basic education. This type of education is not tuition free, and it is currently the only way pregnant girls, adolescent mothers, and married students can study, unless they pay to enroll in private schools.

In March Leonard Akwilapo, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology, announced that 54 folk development centers would begin to enroll pregnant girls and adolescent mothers as of January 2022.

Practice across the African Union

In 2018 Human Rights Watch found that at least 26 African Union countries had laws, policies or strategies in place to guarantee girls’ right to go back to school after pregnancy. In 2021 at least 30 AU countries now have laws, policies, or strategies in place that protect pregnant students’ and adolescent mothers’ right to education to varying degrees.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Human Rights Watch.

Source : African Media Agency (AMA)

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Ghanaian-British invents multi-language translator earbuds – The Maravi Post

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Ghanaian-British, Danny Manu has invented language translator ear buds that are able to translate various languages in real-time to languages preferred by users.

The CLIK+ and CLIK S ear buds have reportedly been accepted in the US and European markets.

Danny Manu’s company, Mymanu has said hundreds of thousands of the CLIK + and CLIK S ear buds have already been sold in the US and Europe.

According to MyManu, the company that makes Click, it uses its unique operating system to make this technology work effectively.

For the buds that operate on OS, the system even makes text-to-speech and speech-to-text possible.

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Users do not need to be connected to the internet before using the device, which enables them to communicate with billions people around the world.

The wireless Bluetooth earbuds can also sync with smartphones, enabling the earbuds to learn the language being spoken whilst providing instant translations to the person listening.

The innovator now hopes to add other African languages to the several languages already programmed for live translation on these ear buds.

Manu who self-financed the translating headphones through his business told Keep The Faith that “Like all the other ethnic minority-run businesses within the UK, I had a hard time getting the funding and financial support from banks and government-funded programs that I needed”.

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According to Manu, he made some sales to help raise capital, and also explored crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo.

He was able to raise £5,000,000 through his different fundraising ventures, according to the Keep The Faith.

“I wanted to help my community and do some good, and Medybird was the perfect solution,” Manu said.

“I saw how COVID-19 was affecting the BAME [Black, Asian, and minority ethnic] communities and my fellow local businesses here in Manchester—it was heartbreaking to watch.”

Danny Manu
Danny Manu, Photo: OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Danny on his personal website said he is a “very ambitious, hard-working engineer who strives to develop life-changing solutions to improve people’s life”.

The young entrepreneur is an engineer born in the United Kingdom to Ghanaian parents.

He studied at Oxford Brookes University and had previously worked at Quanta Networks Inc. and MEDYBIRD before establishing MyManu in 2014.

He was recently recognised by Google for his contributions to science, arts and culture.

How Kenya became the cradle of Africa’s technological innovation

Source: Africafeeds.com

Source: Africa Feeds

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Music Has A New Home In The Ayoba Superapp – The Maravi Post

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CAPE TOWN, South Africa, 21 October 2021 -/African Media Agency(AMA)/- Ayoba, the African super app, has announced the launch of a new focus on music in its application. The new Music homepage in ayoba offers a far superior design with enhanced player, and superb artist/ playlist imagery. Users are advised to upgrade their apps to the latest version of the app, 0.42.2, on ayoba.me, to experience it for themselves.  This update of the app will also ensure that users get access to the full feature set of the Superapp – including the recent updates to add voice and video calling to the current chat and channels offering. 

It has been an incredible journey building a music service in ayoba’ says CEO, Burak Akinci. ‘The year started at 40 000 monthly music users and we are currently at 300 000 monthly music users. The top territories are South Africa, Nigeria and Cameroon and we expect this growth trend to continue. The new music homepage in ayoba will further enhance music discovery in the app, and we anticipate a favourable response from users’’.

Simfy Africa [Pty] Ltd, owner of the ayoba app, has also announced the sunsetting of its standalone music streaming service, MusicTime®. MusicTime® was launched in December 2018 in South Africa with its partner, MTN, and was further launched into select MTN markets in subsequent years.  

Simfy Africa [Pty] Ltd have taken the decision to incorporate music into ayoba and not to split their focus by running two independent apps. The MusicTime® app will be closed to new users this week, and will remain open for existing users until the 30th November 2021. MusicTime® evolved as a product from the legacy Simfy Africa music streaming service, which was sunset earlier this year.

We take this opportunity to thank all our Simfy and MusicTime® users for their support. It has been ten years’ since the Simfy service was launched, and the music industry and competitor landscape has changed significantly. We see greater growth opportunity with the music offering in ayoba,’ says Akinci. ‘A direct comparison of the growth of the MusicTime® and ayoba music services for the past year shows a clear preference for the service in ayoba, both in user numbers and plays.

The upgrade of the music homepage in ayoba is the first in a series of upgrades that are forthcoming in the app with our heightened music and content focus.’ The music offering in ayoba offers 20 localised playlists per week per territory. Nigerian music users for example, see a different offering to Cameroonian. Playlists are rotated weekly with favourites updated with new tracks. South Africa has brought the greatest success for music in ayoba to date, with Nigeria and Rwanda following closely.  

The service has seen millions of plays this year, with the top artist across the continent coming in as Master KG and top song as Summeryomuthi by Blaq Diamond. The same song takes top spot for South Africa with Makhadzi coming in as the top artist. Olamide takes the honours for Nigeria as most played artist, with the top song being Naira Marley by Zinoleesky. Top artist for Ghana goes to Sarkodie with the top song coming in as Inna Song by DarkoVibes. Honours for Rwanda goes to Diamond Platinumz and top song is South of the Border (feat. Camila Cabello & Cardi B) by Ed Sheeran. Cameroon and CongoB have been listening to Fally Ipupa with top song as Mon Meilleur Ami by Rosny Kayiba.

 Ayoba’s weekly Top Songs and New Music Fridays playlists have proven to be the favourite across all territories. Other top playlists that are notable are Gloire à Dieu for Cameroon and CongoB. Ziyaduma! For South Africa, Olamide: Birthday Playlist in Nigeria and Ghana’s Top 50 songs.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Ayoba.

About Ayoba

2021 has been a fast paced year so far for team ayoba. In September, the Super App launched a dynamic, high profile above the line media campaign titled: ‘Life inside ayoba’.  Ayoba also announced an achievement of 8 million monthly users, a steep rise from the announcement of 5.5M monthly active users earlier in 2021. 

To date Ayoba has over 160 content channels across various categories. 

In partnership with MTN, MTN customers are automatically allocated free data to use ayoba features (with the exception of Benin). Free data allocations can be used for all activities available in the app – including messaging, browsing, gaming and listening to music, and customers can also download the app data free at www.ayoba.me. Users are advised that voice and video calls are excluded from the free data provisions.   

Since its launch in May 2019, ayoba has reached millions of users. It offers users free access to an ecosystem of digital and rich media services through channels, micro-apps and payment solutions, embedded within an African super-app. 

Ayoba is highly localised and tailored for African and Middle East consumer needs, supporting 22 relevant languages. Users can send and receive encrypted messages, share photos, videos, files and voice notes and can also subscribe to live channels. Family friendly localised content is available through curated channels aimed at entertaining, educating and empowering communities as well as a range of games. Ayoba is available for Android users on the Google, Transsion, Huawei, Samsung and BeMobi stores as well as the ayoba website (ayoba.me). The PWA can be accessed at web.ayoba.me.

For more information please contact:
Olivier Prentout
Email address: pr@ayoba.me

Source : African Media Agency (AMA)

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South African town of Phoenix still scarred after deadly unrest – The Maravi Post

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On the face of it, Phoenix is a peaceful South African town, with affluent homes, a shopping centre, and several places of worship perched on a hill.

So peaceful that Mahatma Gandhi started a settlement and printed a newspaper there to spread his ideas of non-violence in the early 20th century.

But more than 30 people were killed three months ago on the streets of this mainly Indian town of 180,000 people, in an outbreak of vigilante violence as South Africa experienced its worst unrest in decades.

The victims were mostly black residents of Inanda, a township of corrugated iron houses and palm trees that spreads across the next hill from Phoenix.

Three months later, wounds are still tender and suspicion rife. Vigilante groups continue to patrol at night.

Nationwide violence erupted in July after former president Jacob Zuma was jailed for 15 months for ignoring a judicial investigation into graft during his time in office.

Mobs overwhelmed police in Durban, 25 kilometers (15 miles) south of Phoenix — prompting residents to form armed vigilante groups.

The racial overtones in July were impossible to miss. Most rioters shown on television were black, potentially altering perceptions of people from Inanda as they passed through Phoenix.

Police said at least 36 people were killed, including 33 black men — or almost one in ten of the death toll of 350 across South Africa.

Some of the dead in Phoenix were shot in the head, while others were beaten to death, or even suffered both.

More than 50 people have been arrested on murder charges.

One woman with Indian roots said nine of her neighbours were now behind bars, including her father.

“He didn’t do it. We are not racists,” she said, listing her “black friends” and a pointing to a black neighbour.

“It was a bad time,” she said. “Everyone was out on the roads to protect our community.”

People are still being reported for involvement in the violence three months on, and tensions between the two communities are high.

‘It’s racism’

The hangover from the violence has influenced political campaigning ahead of local elections scheduled for November 1.

Hundreds of businesses were looted and torched during the outburst.

Meanwhile the main opposition Democratic Alliance has stoked tensions, putting up posters hailing as “heroes” those behind what has become known as the “Phoenix massacre”.

“They called us heroes because they want our votes,” said an outraged resident who did not wish to be named.

Before the violence, Phoenix and Inanda co-existed, despite crime on the streets in one of the world’s most violent countries.

“Cars are being carjacked, houses are broken in. But this, I’d never seen this before”, said private security guard Mark Nadasen.

‘It’s racism’

“I can’t stand next to an Indian person today,” said Inanda resident Charmaine Mhlongo, 39.

Her 19-year-old son Sanele Mngomezulu was killed on July 12 while driving around with a group of friends.

They ran into an armed patrol outside Phoenix, which opened fire. Mngomezulu was killed by three bullets as he fled the scene.

Mhlongo believes “Indians” killed her son.

“It’s racism,” she said in her modest kitchen, clutching a photo of her son.

Other township residents claimed they heard Indian vigilantes shouting, “Kill the kaffirs”, using South Africa’s worst racial slur.

Under white-minority rule, which ended in 1994, Indian and mixed-race South Africans were classed as “coloured” with more rights than the majority blacks.

“We were made third-class citizens, while Indians were regarded as second-class citizens,” said Pastor Vusi Dube, who buried several victims in Inanda during the unrest.

Even today, many Phoenix residents employ black people as shop assistants and domestic workers.

Among residents too cautious to give their names, many suspect that some in power deliberately stoked the violence.

Days before the unrest, alarming messages circulated on social media, warning: “They are coming for your house, they are going to burn your house.”

“Some people wanted this to happen,” said one resident.

Source: Africanews

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