"No amount of anger, frustration and grievance can justify acts of destruction and criminality. There can be no excuse for the attacks on the homes and businesses of foreign nationals."
This is according to President Cyril Ramaphosa in reaction to recent violence in parts of Gauteng, which have been underpinned by xenophobic elements.
Addressing the nation on Thursday evening following days of unrest owing to the looting and attacks in Gauteng as well as protest action against the rise in gender-based violence in the country, Ramaphosa said "the people from other countries on our continent stood with us in our struggle against apartheid ... we must use the democracy we have achieved as a platform to live together in harmony".
South Africa has experienced a wave of protests, in which communities have looted both foreign- and South African-owned shops while calling for an end to drug syndicates.
Gauteng has been the hardest hit with sporadic violence occurring across all three of its big metros.
'Families traumatised, destroyed'
"We value our relations with other African countries and need to work to strengthen political, social and trade ties if we are to develop our economy and those of our neighbours.
"Where communities have genuine grievances, these must be addressed through engagement and dialogue," said Ramaphosa.
He added people have lost their lives (seven in total), many have been injured while families were left traumatised and destroyed.
Weekend of prayer and contemplation
"But where people act with criminal intent, irrespective of their nationality, we will not hesitate to act to uphold the law and ensure order and stability."
Ramaphosa also called for calm because now was a "time for all of us who live in this country to confront our challenges directly and earnestly, not through violence, but through dialogue".
He asked religious leaders and communities to lead the country in prayer and contemplation on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.