The recent acts of criminality that resulted in the displacement of foreign nationals in the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Limpopo Provinces are regrettable. Our government believes that no amount of frustration or anger can ever justify the attacks on foreign nationals and the looting of their shops. The Justice, Crime Prevention, and Security Cluster (JCPS) is working tirelessly on the issue of attacks on foreign nationals. To this end, three people have been arrested for the recent incidents in KZN and Limpopo and law enforcement agencies remain steadfast to bring perpetrators responsible for these crimes to book.
The government of South Africa strongly condemns the violent acts in the strongest possible terms. These attacks violate all the values that South Africa embodies, especially the respect for human life, human rights, human dignity and Ubuntu. Our country stands firmly against all intolerances such as racism, xenophobia, homophobia and sexism. We wish the injured a speedy recovery, and appeal for calm, and end to violence and restraint.
It is our view that criminal elements should not be allowed to take advantage of the concerns of citizens to sow mayhem and destruction. Any problems or issues of concern to South African citizens must be resolved peacefully and through dialogue. The police have been directed to work round the clock to protect both foreign nationals and citizens, and to also arrest looters and those committing acts of violence. The government has urged communities to assist the police by providing information on the incidents that have taken place so that the perpetrators can be brought to justice.
Our government would also like to caution that the spread of misinformation, fake pictures and videos on social media, as well as fake websites may be fuelling tensions in the communities between South Africans and foreign nationals. Certain messages and images that appear on social media are old and unrelated to any of the reported incidents of alleged attacks on foreign nationals over the past few days. For instance, a message being circulated about foreign nationals burning South African owned trucks in Limpopo Province is not true.
Government has consistently condemned fake news websites masquerading as authentic news websites. We call for greater efforts of awareness in society about fake news and fake social media posts.
Government respects the right to freedom of press and freedom of expression, but fake news stories are a slanderous attempt against the brand of South Africa with no interest in respecting the Constitution of South Africa.
Accordingly, we urge everyone to be vigilant and not spread fake information and images that may give an impression that these are attacks on foreign nationals.
The engagement by the Minister of International Relations and Corporation, Hon. Lindiwe Sisulu, Minister of Police, Hon. Bheki Cele, Minister of Home Affairs, Hon, Siyabonga Cwele and the African Diplomatic Community in South Africa is a step in the right direction. This meeting has been convened twice already, on Monday, 01 April 2019 and Friday, 05 April 2019, to discuss the current spate of violence against foreign nations and their properties. Once a full report has been issued on the outcomes of these meetings , it will be shared accordingly.
Government calls on all community organisations to stand up and be counted among those who actively discourage attacks against foreign nationals or our citizens.
We call on organisations and individuals who have information regarding threats of violence to report to the police. South Africans and foreign nationals residing in the country are afforded the same protection under the Constitution.
The freedom Charter says there shall be peace and friendship. Our responsibility is to promote this legacy of peaceful coexistence and take it forward. To this end, the South African government reaffirms its responsibility to contribute to a better Africa.
Bobby J. Moroe
Acting High Commissioner.
South African High Commission.
Saturday, 06 April 2019.