Bathandwa Mbola and Nthambeleni Gabara
President Thabo Mbeki has called for the recent attacks on foreign nationals living in South Africa to come to an end.
Anger over unemployment and crime sparked an outbreak of xenophobic violence in Gauteng province, leaving at least 22 people dead. Up to three million foreigners are thought to be in living in South Africa.
Some 6 000 people, many of them Zimbabweans, have been displaced after being evicted from their homes by mobs. Many have sought refuge in police stations, churches and community halls.
“Citizens from other countries on the African continent and beyond are as human as we are and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity,” Mbeki said in a statement on Monday.
“Our humanism as a people enjoins all of us to respect, care, cooperate and act in solidarity with others regardless of their nationality.”
Mbeki said the police would do everything possible to bring the perpetrators to book. “Nothing can justify it. The law-enforcement agencies must and will respond with the requisite measures against anyone found to be involved in these attacks.”
The police have been forced to use rubber bullets to bring crowds to order, and have maintained a heavy presence in hot spots, including Katlehong, Diepsloot, Thokoza, Thembisa, Vosloorus, Makause, Hillbrow, Honeydew, Primrose and Ramaphosa informal settlements.
The attacks have also spread to KwaThema, Tsakane, Wattville and Daveyton.
After a meeting with the management of the South African Police Service (SAPS) on Monday, Gauteng Provincial Commissioner Perumal Naidoo resolved that decisive police operations would be launched to counter the attacks.
Acting National Police Commissioner Tim Williams said strong action would be taken against perpetrators, and that any person or group convening meetings with the intention of inciting violence and criminality would be arrested and prosecuted.
Additional police service members with experience and training in high-risk situations would be deployed in Gauteng, Williams said.
The Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality is currently accommodating 11 000 displaced people at civic centres throughout the metro area. They are being provided with security, blankets, food and health services.
The municipality has formed a joint operation centre with key departments, including the Metro Police, SAPS, disaster management, health, infrastructure services, housing and emergency services to closely look at the violence and future interventions.
The Salvation Army, Red Cross, Gift of the Givers, various churches and other organisations, as well as the Gauteng provincial government, have been providing blankets, food, and sanitation to help alleviate victims’ suffering.
Meanwhile, the City of Cape Town’s Metro Police said on Monday that they would act firmly against anyone who participated in attacks against foreign nationals. Bongani Jonas, Chief of Metro Police, said the law enforcement agencies had a duty to protect the lives and property of all who resided in the country.
“We have noted with great concern that the perpetrators of these attacks did not hesitate to use live ammunition against unarmed and defenceless people,” Jonas added. “Such acts will be met with the full might of the law.”
- Source: SouthAfrica.info and BuaNews