Plea from Ebola team to respect foreign nationals

Friday, April 17, 2015

By More Matshediso

Pretoria – Healthcare professionals, who recently returned from Sierra Leone after helping fight Ebola Disease Virus, have expressed disappointment in the recent violent attacks on foreign nationals in KwaZulu-Natal and Johannesburg.

On Thursday, SAnews spoke to few healthcare professionals, who returned to South Africa on 22 March from their deployment in Sierra Leone, about their experience in the country.

Lucy Thukwane and Billy Nyaku could barely contain their emotions when they voiced their concerns about the attacks on foreign nationals. They said they were treated with respect and honour by Africans in a foreign country.

Thukwane said it was a disgrace for her to return from a country where she was a foreign national, to come back home to families and friends of the very people’s lives she saved that were now being killed.

“South Africans, I am pleading with you. Please stop killing our brothers and sisters, they are human too. What happened to us? What happened to Ubuntu? We are Africans first before we are South Africans,” said Thukwane.

She said Sierra Leone nationals know what being an African means and they are loving, caring and humble.

“We were cared for, we were loved and we were treated like heroes. We felt like we were at home away from home,” she said.

Nyaku, who was also part of the first batch of healthcare professionals to be deployed in Sierra Leone by Right to Care in partnership with the National Department of Health, pleaded with government to do more than just condemning the attacks before they spread throughout the country.

“In no time it could be in every city, town, township and rural areas,” said Nyaku.

He said South Africans must be mindful of the fact that other countries are poorer than South Africa in terms of economy, education and health systems and needed other African countries like South Africa to help.

“When foreign nationals come to our country, they are trying to make ends meet and it is only a matter of survival for them. They are our brother and sisters.

“Yes resources are very scarce in South Africa but why are we killing them?” asked Nyaku.

He said although there were some foreign nationals who gained entrance into South Africa illegally, it should not be assumed and generalised that all foreign nationals are illegal migrants.

“… And not all of them are criminals. We should be calling on our criminal and justice system to prosecute and evict illegal migrants out of the country and arrest those who are criminals. We should not attack every one of them,” he said.

He said South Africans need to stop looting foreign owned tuck shops and be ready to compete and use new ways of running their businesses. -