BY STAFF REPORTERS/OWN CORRESPONDENT
SOUTH African President Cyril Ramaphosa yesterday ordered his country’s Security ministers to stop the violence targeting foreign nationals which started last week, but escalated on Monday, particularly in Johannesburg.
In a televised speech, Ramaphosa said attacks on foreign nationals and destruction of their businesses was unjustified.
“I would like to condemn the violence that has been spreading in a number of provinces around our country in the strongest terms. Attacks on people who run businesses – from foreign nationals – something that is totally unacceptable; something that we cannot allow to happen in South Africa; where people who are running their own businesses are attacked. Businesses are destroyed through rioting and being fire-bombed. This is something that is completely against the ethos that we, South Africans, espouse and there can be no justification whatsoever,” he said.
At least three million Zimbabweans are believed to be in South Africa as immigrant workers, students and economic refugees after fleeing the collapsing economy back home.
Ramaphosa said these attacks could expose South Africans in other countries to violence and also affect the Africa Free Trade Area.
“They should also know that fellow South Africans can be attacked in others countries. We are a country that is completely committed against xenophobia. We cannot allow and will not tolerate attacks on other countries completely. We cannot accept signs that South Africans do not welcome Africans or other people from other countries. We cannot do that because are welcomed in other countries, right. We are part of the whole continent. We inaugurated the Africa Free Trade Agreement so our drivers are not going to be afraid to drive vehicles in other countries. There is just no justification whatsoever for people who have a sense that their jobs are being taken by people from foreign lands to attack them, to destroy properties and actually to kill them. This must be stopped,” he said.
The Zimbabwe Community South Africa described the destruction of foreign nationals’ property and violence against them as “barbaric and primitive”.
Opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa called for a swift end to the attacks.
“The attacks against fellow Africans in South Africa are appalling and heartbreaking. We call upon our African brothers and sisters to show a full sense of brotherhood and sisterhood, consistent with the timeless wisdom of Ubuntu,” Chamisa said in a statement yesterday.
Zimbabwean legislators also demanded that government takes action on the xenophobic attacks and asked Foreign Affairs minister Sibusiso Moyo to issue a ministerial statement on the safety of Zimbabweans in South Africa.
“On the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, I think it is important for the Minister of Foreign Affairs to issue a ministerial statement in the House on how safe Zimbabweans in South Africa are because there is a state of emergency there, and we need to look after our own,” Norton MP Temba Mliswa (independent) said.
National Assembly Speaker Jacob Mudenda assured the MPs that Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi would ask Moyo to issue the ministerial statement.
Beitbridge immigration regional manager Nqobile Ncube yesterday said traffic had normalised as the situation stabilised, with outbound traffic beginning to flow to South Africa after a temporary halt. An anonymous haulage truck driver who spoke to NewsDay on the phone said he had not witnessed any incident and had spent the day at work.
“I do local deliveries and shunting. I was at work the whole day and there were no incidences,” the driver said.