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Xenophobic Killing In South African Township Caught By Photographer

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JOHANNESBURG: He checked the series of stills on his camera. It was then that photographer James Oatway realized the entire attack had taken less than two minutes.

It was the morning after a night of unrest in Johannesburg’s Alexandra Township that saw foreign-owned shops looted and destroyed.

Mozambican Emmanuel Sithole was walking down a street when four South Africans surrounded him. Sithole pleaded for mercy, but it was already too late. The attackers bludgeoned him with a wrench, stabbed him with knives, all in broad daylight. And Oatway had captured it all on his camera.

“They looked like hardened thugs, just by their intensity, the way they moved, the expressions on their faces,” Oatway told CNN. “They wanted one thing and that was to kill Emmanuel. They wanted his blood and nothing was going to stop them from doing that.”

The attackers eventually moved on and left Sithole alone. Oatway and fellow journalist Beauregard Tromp rushed Sithole to a hospital, where he later died.

The attackers eventually moved on and left Sithole alone. Oatway and fellow journalist Beauregard Tromp rushed Sithole to a hospital, where he later died.

Local media alleged that the attacks were a consequence of Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini reportedly saying at a recent gathering that foreigners “should pack their bags and go” because they are taking jobs from citizens. Later, Zwelithini said he had not called for a war on immigrants: “This war I am calling for today is to protect everyone of foreign origin in this country irrespective of which country they are from.”

Shortly after his reported comments, violence against immigrants erupted in the port city of Durban.

But on Monday, Zwelithini said he had not called for a war on immigrants. “This war I am calling for today is to protect everyone of foreign origin in this country irrespective of which country they are from.”

The United Nations said the attacks actually began in March after a labor dispute between citizens and foreign workers.

But it was Oatway’s photos of the violent attack on Sithole that have seemingly encapsulated the true horror of the situation — and South Africa’s leaders have begun to take notice.

“Terrible picture. People who live in rough townships have never seen such a scene,” said President Jacob Zuma about the photos in a televised news conference. “And I was sitting and I was saying to myself, what are we telling the world about ourselves?”

Police announced they’ve arrested three of the four suspects with help from Oatway’s photos, which is little solace for the photographer who captured a level of depravity rarely seen. – CNN

“I’m sickened by it,” said Oatway. “And I’m extremely angry, angry with the men that did this, and ultimately I’m upset that our efforts weren’t successful in saving Emmanuel’s life.” – CNN

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