South Africa condemns xenophobic attack on foreigners

South African President, Jacob Zuma

A Somali man allegedly shot dead the two, believed to be Zimbabwean nationals, outside his shop on Sunday.

The South Africa Government has condemned xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals across the country.

In a statement on Friday, the Acting government spokesperson, Phumla Williams, said the South African government strongly condemned the spate of violence against foreign nationals in the country.

“Government has noted with concern the so-called xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals. We strongly condemn violence, not only on foreign nationals, but also on South Africans. South Africa is a democratic country that accommodates foreigners that are in this country legally,” Ms. Williams said.

She said government commended the police for the arrest of “about 100 people associated with the recent lawlessness.”

The police said nine people were arrested for public violence and possession of stolen goods after a shop owner shot dead two men in Diepsloot, Johannesburg, last weekend. A Somali man allegedly shot dead the two, believed to be Zimbabwean nationals, outside his shop on Sunday. The man was arrested and has been charged with murder. Local residents destroyed and looted shops owned by foreign nationals in the area during the incident.

On Thursday all the Somali-owned shops in Port Elizabeth’s Booysen Park were burnt or looted, while the owners were evacuated from the area by the police to ensure their safety.

No fewer than 23 Nigerians were forced out of their homes on Sunday by South Africans in Port-Nolloth, community for allegedly dealing in drugs. Their property was looted and destroyed. Those affected were moved to safety by the police.

More than 90 people were arrested for protest-related crimes in Evaton, Orange Farm, and Sebokeng, South of Johannesburg in the aftermath of the incident.

Police spokesperson, Stanley Jarvis, told newsmen that the police were in control of the situation.

The conflict, which has raged for three days, has seen residents’ petrol-bomb police vehicles and target Somali-owned shops.

An army official, Marinda Mills said the unrest started when members of the community became upset with the presence of gangs in the area.

“When their effort to dislodge members of the gang was unsuccessful, the protesters turned on the police and Somali shops. We do not know if protesters were unhappy with the police or gangsters or Somali shop-owners,” she said.

Ms. Mills called on South Africans and foreign nationals to “live in peace and harmony.”

“Criminal activities against foreigners and indigenes alike will not be tolerated, as such acts impact negatively on the country’s economy and image. Government will do all in its power to ensure that any form of violence is nipped in the bud, and ensure that law abiding citizens live without fear of being attacked and molested by criminals,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Anglican Archbishop of KwaZulu-Natal, Reuben Phillip, has called on religious leaders to join in the fight to combat xenophobia in their communities.

He said the country “needs to celebrate its diversity, instead of resorting to alienating people from other countries.”

“Religious organisations should and must play an important role by coming together irrespective of their religious differences and say no to what can only be considered a scourge,’’ Mr. Phillip said.

Okey Emuchay, Nigerian Consul-General in Johannesburg, reacting on the development, warned of the consequences of the current spate of xenophobic attack on foreign nationals across South Africa. He urged the police and other security agencies to find ways of curbing the attack on foreigners.

“The world is now a global village, what is happening here in South Africa is being read and watched across the world. It is the duty of the police to provide security to people living here and protectors of those promoting violence and attack on foreigners should rethink and join the progressive forces by fishing out and punishing those perpetrating the violence before the whole thing escalate beyond what can be managed,’’ Mr. Emuchay said.


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