Pretoria — Ekurhuleni Mayor Mondli Gungubele says the municipality will continue to work hard to ensure that its police officers are well trained to deal with any violence against foreign nationals and the gay and lesbian community in the area.
Speaking at the Social Cohesion Summit against Xenophobia, Homophobia and Other Related Intolerances hosted by the City of Ekurhuleni in Germiston, Gungubele said the city had decided to take this stance so that it can deal effectively with incidents of xenophobia and homophobia.
"Xenophobia, sexism, homophobia and racism are some of the culminations of the ignorance of our people [that hinder] the success of our nation," said Gungubele, adding that the city would also increase its presence in strategic areas to ensure that they were closer to the communities that needed service.
The summit was attended by community leaders and a number of foreign nationals mainly from Pakistan, Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique.
"Last year, we held a cleansing ceremony at the Ramaphosa informal settlement in memory of lives lost during the madness that has come to be known as the Xenophobic Violence of 2008.
"Ramaphosa was chosen because it is there that the most brutal death of a Mozambican national occurred at the hands of a mob hell-bent on fermenting the flames of crime, hatred and intolerance," said the mayor.
"This summit marks a continuation of our efforts to ensure that the violence visited upon fellow Africans is never repeated in Ekurhuleni and this lovely country of ours."
Gungubele said through the summit, the city reiterated its commitment and determination to uproot all forms of intolerance, in particular xenophobia and homophobia.
"To this end, we will continue to line up a series of other events to highlight these issues, as well as to ensure our people are educated and made aware on what their rights and responsibilities are in relationship to the foreign national resident here in South Africa."
Gungubele further pointed out that to win the struggle against xenophobia and homophobia, all communities must learn to live in unity instead of mere tolerance.
"Unity is what must drive us. It teaches us to live in harmony with the acceptance that we all need each other to survive."
He reminded the gathering that many South Africans enjoyed hospitality in various African states during the anti-apartheid struggle.
Furthermore, South African companies have also invested heavily in "virtually all African countries", he said.
The City of Ekurhuleni has committed to:
- build local economies to create more employment, decent work and sustainable livelihoods;
- improve local public services and broaden access to them;
- build more united, non-racial, integrated and safer communities;
- promote more active community participation in local government; and
- ensure more effective, accountable and clean local government that works together with national and provincial government.