The United States is not the only nation dealing with tension over immigration and refugees.
Last week, homes and businesses were torched and looted in some parts of the country in the name of stopping crimes committed by foreigners.
But despite the misdeed, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba insists South Africans are not xenophobic.
The minister re-echoed this sentiment on Sunday while speaking at the Lighthouse Chapel International Church in Pretoria on Sunday. President Zuma had earlier shared a similar view when he touched on the matter.
Minister Malusi Gigaba disclosed that the frustrations against foreign nationals were compounded by the deep-rooted socio-economic problems in the country. He pleaded with the government to end poverty and inequality.
“We’ve not made enough progress to address poverty, unemployment, and inequality. But I want you to know, that our region of Southern Africa in our continent of Africa is not a barrier but a path to our salvation from poverty, unemployment, and inequality,” Gigaba added.
He condemned the reprisal attacks on foreign nationals living in the country, adding that the vast majority of South Africans are not xenophobic.
“The vast majority of South Africans are not xenophobic, and the vast majority of immigrants are law-abiding, religious people who seek only what is best for their children and families, for their fellow brethren, and for their countries both of origin and abode.”
Wrapping his speech – which apparently held other worshippers spellbound, the minister called for the rule of law and urged South Africans to report crimes and not take the law into their own hands.
Last week was a week of anguish and pain, of fear and intimidation for most Nigerian, Zimbabwean, Somali, and Pakistani immigrants living in the environs of Johannesburg and Pretoria.
Meanwhile, the government is currently engaging communities following violence that erupted in Pretoria on Friday. The violence resulted in the arrest of 136 people.
Johannesburg had its own bout of xenophobia a couple of weeks ago in the southern neighborhood of Rosettenville, where Nigerians were targeted for drug dealing and prostitution.
It’s worth noting that some of the African nations, whose nationals were targeted in these attacks, were instrumental in leading the struggle against apartheid.
South Africa is a major destination for millions of asylum-seekers, who prefer to come southward instead of going to Europe. The country, unlike many African countries, has a very liberal asylum policy.
For instance, most refugees are granted the right to work, study and even live in the city, unlike what is obtainable in other countries that absorb refugees.
However, regardless of the country’s penetrable borders, Minister Malusi Gigaba recently announced that his department has been diligently working to fortify the country’s borders, having deported 33,339 people in the 2015/2016 financial year.
Similarly, Kenyans living in the Gauteng Province of South Africa are reportedly fleeing the area or staying indoors for fear of attacks.
Kenyans who spoke to reporters said foreigners living in the South African capital Pretoria (Tshwane) had received threatening messages through WhatsApp, warning them of an impending attack.
The Daily Nation reported that the Kenya High Commission has been monitoring the situation.