South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for an immediate end to the violence following the latest spate of xenophobic attacks in provinces around the country.
“The people of our country want to live in harmony and whatever grievances and concerns that people have, we need to handle it in a democratic way. We need to handle it by discussing concerns and problems that we have, and we have done so very well in the past on a number of very difficult issues,” Ramaphosa said in a video posted on Twitter.
Ramaphosa said he had directed the Minister of Police, Bheki Cele, to have a meeting with leaders at hostels to address the violence, which he said was mutating in ways he did not want to see in South Africa.
According to the South African Police Service, it is believed that some perpetrators of the looting and arson in and around Johannesburg come from the Cleveland and Denver hostels.
Ramaphosa said it is unacceptable to have a sense that South Africans do not welcome other Africans or other people from the world because they (South Africans) are welcomed in other countries.
“There is just no justification whatsoever for any South African to go out of their way to attack people from other countries. We need to act in a way where we give respect to people from other countries and show them that they are welcome to be in our country,” Ramaphosa said.
Mr. Ramaphosa reiterated that South Africa is a country that is completely committed against xenophobia and does not tolerate attacks against people from other African countries or any other country.
Violence and looting of shops owned by foreigners began in Tshwane last week and spread after at least three people were killed on Sunday following the collapse of an old building which caught fire in Johannesburg’s central business district.
The unrest then spread to Pretoria and two suburbs in the east where shops in Marabastad, a business area made up predominantly of economic migrants, were reportedly burnt.
Police arrested more than 40 people on Monday in Johannesburg, Tembisa township (located east of Johannesburg) and Pretoria.
Such violence breaks out periodically in South Africa, where many citizens blame foreigners for high unemployment.
The violence on Monday followed similar incidents in Pretoria last week where protests led by taxi drivers saw shops owned by foreigners looted and burnt.