South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Saturday his country is working hard to end xenophobic attacks being perpetrated by South Africans on foreign nationals.
Speaking at the state funeral for the late former leader of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe in Harare, Ramaphosa said South Africans were not xenophobic and apologized to Zimbabweans and Africans for the bout of the xenophobic violence which has left over 12 people – including two Zimbabweans – dead and hundreds displaced.
“In the past two weeks we as South Africans have been going through a challenging period. We have had acts of violence erupting in some parts of our country, some of which was directed at nationals from other African countries.”
“This has led to the deaths and injury of a number of people, some of whom were nationals from other countries. I stand before you as a fellow African to express my regret and to apologize for what has happened in our country,” Ramaphosa said.
He said what has happened in South Africa is against the principle of unity of the African people that the late Mugabe and late former South African president Nelson Mandela and other late African revolutionary leaders stood for.
“I stand before you fellow Zimbabweans, fellow Africans to say we are working very hard to encourage all our people in South Africa to embrace people from all African countries. I would like to state it here and now that South Africa is not xenophobic. They are not against nationals from other countries.
“We welcome people from other countries and we are going to work very hard to encourage and promote social cohesion of all the people of South Africa working and living side by side with people from other parts of the continent,” Ramaphosa said in a speech after Zimbabweans attending the funeral service at the National Sports Stadium had expressed their displeasure to him over the violence.
Following the violence, the Zimbabwe government this week repatriated 96 nationals from South Africa as xenophobic attacks in the neighboring country intensify.