Pretoria-South Africa's leaders used the Freedom Day celebrations on Monday to reiterate that the recent attacks of people from other African countries has no place in the country.
The wave of violence that claimed seven lives in recent weeks has been brought to a halt, according to Gauteng Premier David Makhura.
“Today we can say the violence against our fellow brothers and sisters has stopped,” Makhura said to applause from the hundreds who had gathered at the Union Building’s southern lawns for the event.
Calling for the violence never to be repeated, Makhura said there was no justification for the killing of fellow Africans.
“We don’t accept any justification with regards to the violence perpetrated against our foreign nationals, fellow brothers and sisters, in our continent. We continue to condemn the attacks on and we will make sure these barbaric acts never take place in our country. We are one people, one Africa and one humanity.”
President Jacob Zuma was also at lengths to condemn the attacks, saying they have put the country through a difficult period.
Seven people were killed during the horrific attacks that were directed at foreign nationals in Durban and Johannesburg.
The figure includes three South Africans which President Zuma named as Ayanda Dlamini( 22), Thabo Mzobe(14 ) and Msawenkosi Dlamini (29).
The authorities, President Zuma said, are working hard with affected embassies to ensure that all the victims of the violence are positively identified. He extended condolences to all the families and compatriots of the deceased.
“The police have been instructed to work tirelessly to bring the killers of all to book. We strongly condemn these attacks. They have no place in a democracy where people are free to express their unhappiness about any issue,” he said.
President Zuma urged communities to isolate criminal elements who commit crimes against fellow human beings saying these should be reported to the police.
He said the latest outbreak of violence necessitates more comprehensive action from all South Africans to ensure that there is no recurrence.
“We have to address the underlying causes of the violence and tensions, which is the legacy of poverty, unemployment and inequality in our country and our continent and the competition for limited resources,” he said referring to the Freedom Charter which calls for peace and friendship in South Africa's relations with other countries.
South Africa needed to also find a constructive solution to the challenge of migration. This could be done through working with representatives of the foreign nationals and governments of the affected countries.
Detailing government’s plans, President Zuma said he had established a committee of 14 ministers to find solutions and to help the country deal with the underlying causes of the violence.
The Inter-Ministerial Committee has been directed to deal with all issues, including ensuring the respect for the laws of the land by all and ensuring that no persons live in the country illegally or run businesses illegally.
Government will also work with stakeholders such as business so that they can support the process and adhere to the laws that prohibit the employment of illegal immigrants.
This will also protect foreign nationals from exploitation.
Working with communities to end attacks
President Zuma said government will also work with communities to ensure that support is provided to refugees and asylum seekers residing in South Africa, in accordance with international law and Ubuntu.
Already government has announced measures to improve security at the border posts including deploying the army in seven provinces recently to patrol border post. Members of the defence force will also be deployed as immigration officers to improve the capacity of the Department of Home Affairs at the border posts.
In the long term, the Department of Home Affairs is developing a new International Migration Green Paper, to be released for public comment in early 2016.
The new policy, according to President Zuma, will take into account the recent experiences.
The president was of the belief that the efforts of the African Union to promote peace, stability and democracy in every corner of the continent will in the long run reduce the need for people to migrate towards the south.
This in addition to the promotion of intra-Africa trade, regional integration, infrastructure and other economic interventions will change the economic situation of many African countries.
South Africa is already preparing a formal report for SADC, African Union and the United Nations in this regard.
“The end result will be that brothers and sisters will eventually no longer need to leave their countries in search of a better life.
In interacting with the foreign nationals, president Zuma said “many have indicated that they come to South Africa because it is much safer.”
Last week, government ministers took to the affected communities through izimbizo to hear their concerns and views.
Most raised the concern of the number of illegal and undocumented migrants which they said was increasing as well as the accusation that undocumented foreign nationals commit crimes in the country.
Others indicted that foreign nationals were not competing failry for jobs as some employers apparently prefer workers who are prepared to accept lower wages as well as the running of businesses illegally.
Government, President Zuma said, will take into account the issues raised in the izimbizo and the stakeholder consultations as it works to find lasting solutions.
However, he reiterated that no problems could justify attacks on foreign nationals and the looting of their shops.
“It is also important to emphasise that not all foreign nationals are in the country illegally. Many live here legally and contribute to the socio-economic development of the country. It is also not true that all foreign nationals are involved in criminal activities.”
President Zuma said the country still needs healing from the violence of the past.
“There is a lot of anger, and propensity to use violence in our society- we need to do more to fight racism and promote tolerance… we need to be cured of this sick behavior. We need psychological cure,” he said also making an example of the happening in parliament recenlty saying they are legacy of apartheid.
The president went on to thank South Africans for coming out in their thousands in the past week to register their condemnation of the violent incidences.
“The marches have demonstrated that we are peace loving people who believe in human dignity, human rights and Ubuntu, and that South Africans are opposed to xenophobia, racism and all related intolerances.”
He also thanked the United Nations, the African Union and all sister nations in the continent who have expressed their support and encouragement during the period. –SAnews.gov.za