South Africa unites in call to end xenophobic attacks

May 31st, 2008 - 1:06 am ICT by admin  

By Fakir Hassen
Johannesburg, May 30 (IANS) Churches, businesses and the civil society Friday joined the chorus of condemnation of xenophobic attacks on migrants from other African countries in South Africa. Religious organisations and civil society pledged to co-operate with government to combat xenophobic attacks and ensure the realisation of the African Renaissance at an Anti-xenophobic Coalition meeting here.

The coalition was formed by the South African National Defence Force (SANDF), business organizations and churches to mark Africa Day celebrations.

Delivering a keynote address at the event held at the historic Regina Mundi Church in Soweto, south of here, where hundreds of victims of the xenophobic attacks have sought refuge, Gauteng provincial government minister Qedani Dorothy Mahlangu reminded South Africans of the key role played by countries such as Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and many other African countries during the apartheid era in the country.

These countries had given refuge to great leaders like Nelson Mandela and others as they sought to bring democracy to South Africa.

“We cannot go on like this - xenophobia does not have a place in this country. This country belongs to all who live in it, irrespective of race, colour and creed. We are all Africans and should learn to live together side by side as we have been doing over the years,” Mahlangu said.

Mahlangu also announced that all foreign nationals and displaced people (estimated to be about 30,000 in Gauteng province) will be moved to temporary shelters identified by government, where they will be provided with basic health care, food and other essentials.

She said the Gauteng provincial government had identified suitable land for temporary relocation of the displaced and that it was important that they be reintegrated into the communities.

Locals had turned on the foreign nationals and even South African naturalized citizens from other African countries, claiming that they were taking up jobs and housing intended for the locals.

The two-week wave of violence across the country left 56 people dead and thousands homeless, while thousands more returned to their home countries, especially neighbouring Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

SANDF Colonel Sipho Majola echoed MEC Mahlangu sentiments, calling on all South Africans to cease attacks on foreign nationals.

He said there was no reason for South Africans to vent their anger on vulnerable groups and urged them to refrain from such barbaric acts.

“This is totally unacceptable and it has to stop now. Let us love one another, regardless of one’s place of origin.”

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