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Zuma condemns xenophobic attacks

SOUTH African President Jacob Zuma has condemned the “shocking and unacceptable incidents of violence” directed at foreign nationals by South Africans and vowed that his country remains committed to stamping out all forms of intolerance.

Herbert Moyo

The violence flared in Isipingo, Durban, last week when foreigners were attacked and driven out of their homes and has claimed several lives, evoking memories of 2008 when foreigners also lost their lives while others were driven out of their homes, their property looted.

While acknowledging socio-economic challenges in the country including complaints by locals about illegal and undocumented immigrants in the country, Zuma said there was no justification for the attacks which have spread from KwaZulu-Natal to Gauteng province. He said they undermine the values his country embodies, “especially the respect for human life, human rights, human dignity and Ubuntu”.

“Our country stands firmly against all intolerances such as racism, xenophobia, homophobia and sexism. No amount of frustration or anger can ever justify the attacks on foreign nationals and the looting of their shops,” Zuma said yesterday while addressing the South African National Assembly in Cape Town.

He also implored South Africans to reciprocate the generosity and assistance African countries rendered during the struggle which culminated in Independence in 1994 from the oppressive minority white Apartheid regime.

“Ukuhlaselwa kwabantu bokufikakulelizwe akwemukelekile neze. Sathola usizo emazweni amaningi ngesikhathi silwela inkululeko.Abazangebasixoshe noma basihlukumeze”. (Attacks on foreign nationals are not acceptable. We received assistance from many countries during our struggle for independence. They never chased us out or ill-treated us),” said Zuma.

“We were treated with generosity, dignity and respect by our brothers and sisters from the rest of the continent. We will never forget that hospitality and solidarity. The support of the Frontline States in Southern Africa and that of the Organisation for African Unity was critical to the achievement of the freedom and democracy we are enjoying today.”

Zuma announced a number of measures that are being implemented to contain the violence as well as address some of its possible causes by increasing border controls to stem the tide of illegal immigrants. These include last weekend’s deployment of the ministers of Police, State Security and Home Affairs to work with the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial government to quell the violence and bring the situation to normality.

These have now been joined by the Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster ministries.

“We will also be seeking cooperation and support from the affected foreign missions based in South Africa. The Minister of Home Affairs met with African Heads of Missions last week. The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation will take these discussions forward as well in her engagements with the African Heads of Missions as well tomorrow (today),” Zuma stated.

The South African government is forging ahead with plans to establish the Border Management Agency which will manage the border environment and all ports of entry. In addition, the South African National Defence Forces “will transfer 350 soldiers to Home Affairs, to work as immigration officers at border posts”.

Soldiers have also been deployed along the border line in seven provinces to prevent border crime activities and illegal border crossings.

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