The Solidarity Peace Trust condemns escalating threats of violence against foreigners in South Africa as the country’s successful hosting of the FIFA Soccer World Cup draws to a close.
The Trust supports a number of initiatives in Johannesburg, KwaZulu-Natal and Cape Town and is concerned that, if South African authorities fail to take the renewed threats of violence seriously, the tragic events of 2008 may be repeated.
That shocking wave of anti-foreigner attacks left 62 people dead and nearly 100 000 displaced. It created terror among the refugee community and generated negative publicity for South Africa worldwide.
Reports have already been brought to The Trust’s attention of foreigners being attacked and robbed of their meagre possessions as they leave areas where their safety is under threat.
The Trust therefore urges the authorities, notably the police, to respond decisively to the widespread threats and to act immediately against people or organisations which are fomenting violence, as well as against all perpetrators of attacks on foreigners.
The Trust calls on churches and community leaders to unite against xenophobic attacks and to demand that foreigners are given the protection they deserve. We support the view of the South African Council of Churches that the threats of xenophobic violence are not based on unfounded rumours, as is claimed by certain government departments.
While the lack of political leadership needs to be addressed, it is also vital that communication between township residents and foreign nationals is initiated immediately to build understanding and prevent violent xenophobic incidents.
The Trust appreciates South African government spokesman Themba Maseko’s reassurances that Cabinet has re-established the inter-ministerial committee (IMC) to focus on and deal with incidents and threats of attacks on foreign nationals.
South Africa is a country which prides itself on its deep religious beliefs and moral principles. The Trust calls on the people of South Africa to follow the teachings of the Bible regarding the hosting of foreigners:
“When a stranger resides with you in your land, you shall do him no wrong … (he) … shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself …” (Lev 19.33,34)
Solidarity Peace Trust