Three South African Cabinet ministers on Friday held a follow-up meeting with ambassadors and high commissioners of mainly African countries, as the Pretoria authorities seek ways to combat criminal attacks targeting foreign nationals in parts of the country.
Before 11am, Police Minister Bheki Cele, Home Affairs Minister Siyabonga Cwele, and International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu entered the auditorium where the heads of diplomatic missions had been waiting for the high-level meeting.
The meeting on Friday was behind closed doors, without media presence.
Another meeting was held on Monday, where the South African authorities undertook to gather more facts around the attacks, and discuss the issues with the foreign envoys on Friday.
On the sidelines of the meeting on Monday, Zambia’s High Commissioner in South Africa Emmanuel Mwamba said Lusaka had expressed “deep concerns” with the latest wave of attacks on foreign nationals in parts of South Africa.
“We are beginning to worry that this is becoming cyclical, it is beginning to appear like a routine. Our biggest concern is that we have elections coming up on 8th May… and the foreigners might be blamed for lack of jobs, lack of housing and services and opportunities,” Mwamba spoke to African News Agency (ANA).
“We need to urge our political leaders to ensure that they do not speak carelessly. That they speak responsibly. A foreigner, whether documented or not, whether legal or not, has fundamental human rights. They should not be beaten or stoned and their properties taken willy-nilly.”
Last week, more than 150 foreigners living in an informal settlement in Clare Estate in Durban had to flee the area after they were attacked by a group of men.
Several messages were doing the rounds in South Africa, warning of protests against the employment of foreign nationals in the country.
At the previous meeting on Monday, Zimbabwe’s ambassador, David Hamadziripi, said he was encouraged by the South African government’s stance.
“We are of a strong view that violence targeted at anyone – whether a foreign national or a South African – is unacceptable. Now the South African government has called us here to come and express our concerns and we will certainly do so in the meeting,” said Hamadziripi.
Meanwhile, civil society group #NotInMyNameSA was on Friday set to picket outside South Africa’s department of international relations as part of its #NoToXenophobia campaign.
– African News Agency