2 July 2010

South Africa: Govt Issues Warning On Xenophobic Violence

Photo: Graeme Williams/UNICEF
Children at the border between South Africa and Zimbabwe.

Pretoria — Acts of violence against foreign nationals living in South Africa will not be tolerated, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa has warned.

The minister said police were aware that media and civil society organisations have over the past few weeks expressed concern about rumours that foreign nationals living in South Africa faced a threat of xenophobic violence after the end of the FIFA World Cup.

According to these rumours, residents in certain parts of the country, with a concentration of foreign nationals, are providing a range of reasons why foreign nationals may be targeted.

Recent media reports claimed that some South Africans could resort to violence against foreign nationals once the tournament ends and the many jobs the World Cup created are no longer there.

There are fears that locals could take out their frustrations on foreign nationals who, some South Africans believe, are taking jobs away from locals.

Mthethwa, who chairs the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Xenophobia, said there could be no justification for violence against foreign nationals or anyone else living in South Africa and police would be on high alert and act swiftly against such acts.

"We will not tolerate any threat or act of violence against any individual or sector of society, no matter what reasons are given to justify such threats or actions.

"Government is closely monitoring these xenophobic threats by faceless criminals whose desire is to create anarchy. We want to assure society that our police are on the ground to thwart these evil acts," the minister said.

Police's intelligence arm, with the help of various community structures, was investigating the threats of xenophobic attacks.

"Security agencies are on high alert to ensure that threats and manifestations of violence against any individual or group are effectively addressed," Mthethwa added.

He also called on organisations and individuals who had any information about any possible xenophobic violence to take that information to police and to support police in the fight against crime.

"Criminals do not live in isolation from communities. That is why we need to deepen our partnership with communities," he said.

Mthethwa also promised South Africans that the swift and effective police work the country witnessed during the World Cup would continue once the tournament was over.

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