South Africa: Ramaphosa Condemns Xenophobia, Warns of Action Against Criminals

President Cyril Ramaphosa has condemned violence against foreigners in South Africa and has called on law enforcement agencies to act against those who commit xenophobic crimes.

KwaZulu-Natal has once again emerged as a hotspot for xenophobic violence, after two people were killed in violence last week, News24 reported.

"As South Africans, we owe our freedom to the solidarity and support given to our liberation struggle by people across our continent and around the world," Ramaphosa said in a brief statement.

The comments come on the heels of a recent speech in which the president appeared to threaten foreigners who run businesses in the informal sector.

"Everybody just arrives in our townships and rural areas and set up businesses without licences and permits. We are going to bring this to an end," Ramaphosa said in speech on the election trail.

However, Cabinet ministers Lindiwe Sisulu and Bheki Cele on Monday led an engagement with heads of diplomatic missions to work out how to better integrate communities in South Africa.

In 2008, 62 people were killed when deadly violence swept the country. Spaza shop owners faced mob attacks by gangs wielding pangas. Some people were necklaced - killed by having a burning tyre place around their necks.

Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu apologised on behalf of South Africans saying: "Those who have been victims, we want to tell them we are sorry and we will not repeat this," News24 reported at the time.

Xenowatch statistics published by NGO Sonke Gender Justice said that there have been 66 deaths and 116 assaults blamed on xenophobia since 2015.

The organisation says that, over the same period, 11 140 people were displaced as a result of attacks and that, in many cases, perpetrators made no attempt to rob victims.

The South African Police Service's official crime statistics does not specifically highlight xenophobia.

The Presidency on Monday tweeted the hashtag #WeAreAfrica, which had three retweets as of Monday morning.

Ramaphosa indicated that the government was determined to fight any incident of xenophobia.

"Today, our economy and society benefits from our extensive trade and investment relations with partners on our continent and many of our continental compatriots live in South Africa where they are making important contributions to the development of our country.

"African development depends on the increased movement of people, goods and services between different countries for all of us to benefit. We will not allow criminals to set back these processes," said the president.

Source: News24

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