Johannesburg - The community of Alexandra says it is totally against the attacks on people from other African countries.
Hundreds of residents braved the chilly Friday morning to gather at the Alexandra Stadium for a South African Police Services (SAPS) Law Enforcement Imbizo.
Resident Akhona Sibisi said the community was united and stands together in denouncing the violence.
“We want to show Africa and South Africa that we disassociate ourselves from violence against our African brothers and sisters. We stand for social justice and all people's dignity. Our blood is one,” said the 29-year-old.
“We are all Africans and we need to ensure that we are safe in our own land … no one is illegal. If there is a problem let's fix it and not kill each other‚” Sibisi told SAnews.
Another resident, Kagiso Malula, 40, said the foreign nationals were welcomed with open arms.
“Everyone in the community is aware that attacking foreign nationals is not the solution to social and economic problems … they are not to be blamed.
“My plea to South Africans is that we need to unite against unemployment, housing, crime and bad schools, instead of turning against people seeking refuge in the country for political and economic reasons,” he pleaded.
Most of the community members who spoke to SAnews said they had developed a strong bond with the shopkeepers - most of which are from other African countries.
The local residents regarded the shopkeepers as ‘family’, with a belief that they play a positive role in the community.
They felt humiliated by the weekends’ pictures of Mozambican national Emmanuel Sithole who was stabbed and killed in the area.
Four people were arrested for his murder and remain behind bars for the killing which sparked national outrage.
Addressing the community who gathered at the stadium, Deputy Minister of Police, Makhotso Magdeline Sotyu, called on South Africans to support all initiatives of anti-attacks on foreign nationals.
“We must show solidarity with our fellow displaced Africans, whose lives have been so damaged in this violence; and that has also torn families apart.
“We must build caring and sharing communities, which are stable, safe, welcoming, and most of all, law-abiding," the Deputy Minister told the crowds.
She said when similar attacks occurred in 2008 government never thought that it would flare up again. “Hence we are here to [hear what are the] root problems and come up with solutions together.”
Also attending the SAPS’s Law Enforcement Imbizo was MEC for Community Safety, Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane, SAPS top brass as well as representatives from high commissioners and ambassadors from other African countries such as Burundi, Nigeria and Kenya.
They reiterated that relations between their counties and South Africa will not be affected by the attacks.
“I can assure you that the relationship between us as government and our people will never be affected by these events. We have constantly informed our country about the South African government efforts to address the attacks,” said a representative from Burundi. - SAnews.gov.za