International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has told the international community that South Africa’s arms were open to any person who wished to reside in the country.
Sisulu made the declaration following a meeting with Ambassadors from across the continent to discuss last week’s attacks on foreign nationals in Durban.
Addressing the media on Monday, Sisulu said police had requested additional time to investigate last week’s violent scenes and determine if they were xenophobic, criminal or both.
President Cyril Ramaphosa today also condemned the violence and called on law enforcement agencies and law-abiding citizens to identify perpetrators and bring them to book.
“We want to assure everybody in this country that we are doing everything in our power to make sure that everybody is safe. The constitution guarantees the safety of everyone and it is our duty to do that,” Sisulu said.
The Minister added that the government was aware of further threats and would make sure that these do not come to pass.
Further discussions are expected to take place on Friday which will be attended by Sisulu, Police Minister Bheki Cele and Home Affairs Minister Siyabonga Cwele.
Sisulu said during today’s engagement, ambassadors felt the attacks were xenophobic and happened on a regular basis.
“We are going to sit down and deal with this matter,” she said.
The Minister said government was now involving the representatives of other countries.
“They are responsible for their citizens in this country. We need their help to deal with this. We have been dealing with this matter with NGOs and the churches and it is not getting better in some places. If we are joined by representatives of these countries then we will be able to get to the bottom of this,” she said.
The Minister said there were instances where government was unable to draw the line between acts of criminality and pure xenophobia.
Sisulu’s Deputy Minister Luwellyn Landers said initial reports suggest that the recent attacks in Durban were sparked by foreigners killing two South Africans.
“In South Africa, unless you are threatened by someone else – your life, your property – you cannot shoot another person. We’ve stressed this point and it will form part of our further discussions on Friday,” he said.
“On Friday [police] will have all the facts, as opposed to a lot of fake news that is being disseminated,” he said.
During the today’s briefing it emerged that 300 Malawians had been displaced during the attacks with several subsequently now seeking to return to their home country.
Democratic Republic of Congo Ambassador and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, Bene M’poko, said it was important to note that there was a blur and definition for what is going on.
“When does criminality stop? When does it start? What is important is to define the problem and its sources; get the relevant people involved – including community, religious and political leaders – for these not to occur,” he said.
President Ramaphosa condemns violence against foreign nationals
President Cyril Ramaphosa has condemned violence against foreign nationals in South Africa and called on law enforcement agencies and law-abiding citizens to identify perpetrators and bring them to book.
“There can be no justification for criminality and if communities are disaffected for any reason, grievances must be raised with government and must be done within the confines of the law,” President Ramaphosa said.
The statement follows the recent reports of attacks on foreign nationals in parts of Durban and Limpopo, where their property and goods were looted and damaged.
President Ramaphosa said recent violence against Malawian and other nationals in KwaZulu-Natal is particularly regrettable on the eve of Freedom Month, which in 2019 marks 25 years of freedom.
South Africans, President Ramaphosa said, owe their freedom to the solidarity and support given to the liberation struggle by people across the continent and around the world.
“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,” the President said.
The President has since welcomed Monday’s engagement between International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and Police Minister Bheki Cele, and the African diplomatic community in South Africa.
Today’s meeting has been convened to discuss the current spate of violence against foreign nationals and their properties. It will focus on how ambassadors and government can work with communities and all stakeholders to foster integration in communities