Speaking on SA xenophobic unrest, and the attacks on African migrants, South Africa’s former President, Thabo Mbeki asserted that it’s offensive to characterise African migrants living in SA as criminals.
Mbeki urged the people of South Africa to abandon the attitudes driving the xenophobic unrest in South Africa. And, to stop treating Africans residing in SA as enemies and unwanted guests.
Also, he tasked South African citizens to always remember the role African countries played in Mzansi’s struggle against apartheid.
“As South Africans” he started, “we should never forget the enormous sacrifices that were made by the sister people of Africa, to help us achieve our liberation.
“We cannot now behave in a manner that treats fellow Africans, who are now residents in our country, as enemies or unwelcome guests. Neither should we commit the offence of viewing or characterising African migrants in our country as criminals.”
Mbeki referred to the anti-immigration march which happened last week and added:
“Those who organised and participate in these attacks, which must stop, must know there is absolutely nothing revolutionary, progressive or patriotic, acceptable or of service to the people in what are in fact criminal activities.
When our communities discover or suspect criminal activities in their areas, regardless of the nationality of the alleged criminal or criminals, they must report this to the police service.”
The former leader made the remarks during a media briefing after his inauguration in Pretoria as the chancellor of Unisa.
Mbeki’s sentiment echoed President Jacob Zuma’s call for South Africans to stop blaming all criminal activities on non-nationals.
Commenting on SA xenophobic unrest, Zuma acknowledged that the xenophobic unrest has become more serious because residents in some communities are blaming non-nationals for the escalating crimes, especially drug trafficking.
“Many citizens of other countries living in South Africa are law-abiding and contribute to the economy of the country positively.
“It is wrong to brandish all non-nationals as drug dealers or human traffickers.
“Let us isolate those who commit such crimes and work with the government to have them arrested, without stereotyping and causing harm to innocent people,” Zuma begged.
Meanwhile, reports from Nigeria have it that the government of the West African country is pissed with South Africa’s Minster of Home Affairs (Malusi Gigaba) for suggesting that diplomacy is the solution to attacks on Nigerians living in South Africa.
The Foreign Affairs Senior Special Adviser to the President of Nigeria, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa reportedly proclaimed that the Nigerian government will no longer ignore the violence against its citizens in South Africa.
She said “Gigaba’s response to the mayhem that a segment of the South African people perpetrated on law-abiding Nigerians in South Africa smirks of insensitivity, and is therefore very reprehensible, if not unacceptable.
In view of the “unfortunate statement”, Dabiri-Erewa called on the African Union (AU) to take up SA xenophobic unrest issue as a matter of urgency.
“The days that the Nigerian government will fold its arms while its citizens are maltreated to the point that some of them have lost their lives for no just cause are long gone.
“(Gigaba’s) response to the xenophobic attacks, which have now become a recurring decimal on Africans, most especially Nigerians living peacefully in their host country of South Africa, was indeed unfortunate.
“Even if this unguarded statement must be taken at its face value, we wonder if wanton destruction and indiscriminate killing of their African brothers is the most sensible excuse to give.
“The Home Affairs minister should have been more guarded and introspective in his statements so as not to further fan the embers of xenophobia that may get out control if care is not taken,” Dabiri-Erewa contended.