Xenophobia: UN cautions South African leaders against inciting statements

South Africa on map
South Africa on map

The Acting Resident Coordinator for the United Nations in South Africa, Ayodele Odusola, has expressed deep concern over recent and ongoing acts of violence against foreign nationals that have been spreading across several parts of the country, particularly in the Gauteng Province.

“Over the past few days, we have witnessed, with deep concern, acts of violence against foreign nationals and criminality against members of the public and the wanton destruction of property,” said Mr Odusola. “This should not be happening in the South Africa Mandela dreamt of.”

He called on all stakeholders to be part of the solution by refraining from saying or sending inciteful messages within and outside South Africa. The political leaders, the law enforcement agencies, the organised private sector, community leaders, civil society organizations, citizens and the international community must be vanguards and ambassadors of social cohesion.

The acting Resident Coordinator added that he was encouraged by the police response in quelling the violence and welcomed statements by South African authorities, including President Cyril Ramaphosa, condemning the violence and other acts of criminality.

Answering a question in an interview in Cape Town last Thursday where she was attending the World Economic Forum on Africa, UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed said, “There isn’t anything that justifies the level of violence against another person for trying to make a livelihood and, in particular, in the African context, a guest in your home should not be harmed.”

Meanwhile, in New York last week, Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesman for the UN Secretary-General strongly condemned the violence, saying that “the Secretary‑General has also very much noted President Ramaphosa’s unequivocal condemnation of that violence, as well as his call for strengthened accountability in line with democratic values enshrined in South Africa’s Constitution. The Secretary‑General urges all political leaders to clearly and openly reject the use of violence.”

Mr Odusola said the UN in South Africa will continue to work with the government, the people of South Africa and other partners in finding a durable solution to violence and criminality.

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