Zuma condemns xenophobic attacks

16 April 2015

President Jacob Zuma condemned the attacks on foreign nationals in KwaZulu-Natal and Johannesburg in an interview with the SABC, South Africa’s public broadcaster, on Wednesday night.

“This must stop because we cannot continue killing one another as Africans who belong to the same continent,” Zuma said. “What is happening in our country is not acceptable. We condemn this . [as] people are being attacked and killed.”

 

He called for calm as the attacks on foreign nationals spread from Durban to Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday, and to Johannesburg in Gauteng.

The pre-recorded interview with Zuma was broadcast on SAfm and on the other stations’ news bulletins on Wednesday, News24 reported. He also spoke on SABCs television bulletins.

Lives lost

The attacks have claimed five lives in KwaZulu-Natal – including that of a 14-year-old boy – according to the provincial SA Police Service on Wednesday. KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant-General Mmamonnye Ngobeni has also condemned the attacks. Many hundreds have been displaced.

Zuma last week assigned Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko and State Security Minister David Mahlobo to work with the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government to address the violence that has broken out in the province.

“Government is working hard to find a way where there will be co-existence without depriving people of certain opportunities. We cannot accept that when there are challenges we use violence, particularly on our brothers and sisters from the continent,” Zuma said.

He reminded the country’s citizens that when South Africa had been in trouble in the past, it was other African countries that had assisted the fight for liberation: “They did not chase us away and therefore it is important for us to bear that in mind.”

Zuma conveyed his condolences to the families who have lost loved ones in the violence.

Displaced

A provincial JOINTS Priority Committee has been activated to co-ordinate government departments in responding to these incidents of violence against foreign nationals in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

The attacks have resulted in foreign nationals being displaced in KwaZulu-Natal. All district disaster management centres have been placed on high alert and a 24-hour call centre has been established.

Shelters with basic amenities such as water, sanitation and health care facilities, have also been set up to accommodate those displaced by the violence.

Government is also working closely with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the UN Children’s Fund, as well as non-government organisations to provide food, psycho- social and other support to those affected.

On Tuesday, the government said additional police officers had been deployed to KwaZulu-Natal to deal with the attacks on foreign nationals.

Seventy-four people have been arrested for various violence-related cases, KwaZulu police said. The offences include murder, public violence, business robbery, theft and possession of firearms and ammunition.

Working together

Ngobeni commended the city’s departments, NGOs and civil society for rallying together in an effort to curb the wave of violent attacks in various parts of the province.

She has instructed all detectives investigating cases related to the violence to work closely with the prosecuting authorities to ensure that cases are thoroughly investigated and that perpetrators of violence are brought to book.

Ngobeni said that police were doing everything to restore peace and stability, and appealled to the community to refrain from attacking each other.

“We once again discourage people from taking the law into their own hands and caution that those found to be breaking the law will be prosecuted. They must stop committing criminal activities and report those suspects wanted by the police for crimes that were already reported in the area,” she said.

Peace march

Meanwhile, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu and eThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo are leading a peace march in Durban on Thursdsay against violence directed at foreign nationals.

Update: President Jacob Zuma will make a statement in the National Assembly on Thursday afternoon on the xenophobic violence, ANC chief whip Stone Sizani said on Wednesday night.

SAinfo reporter and SAnews.gov.za