The Anglican bishops of Southern Africa on Thursday condemned an anonymous call on social media that incites citizens to attack foreign nationals living in the country.
The bishops said no grievance justifies violent attacks against foreign nationals living in South Africa.
“We appeal for all to act within the law and not to abuse the right to protest by fomenting hatred, division and violence,” said the church’s Synod of Bishops in a statement.
The Synod of bishops, meeting in Benoni, said it was deeply concerned by the potential for violence during the march against foreign nationals planned for Friday in Pretoria.
The Mamelodi Residents Trust has organised the march against foreign nationals whom they accuse of taking jobs away from locals, operating brothels and drug dens.
Two weeks ago protesting residents of Rosettenville burnt houses thought to be owned by foreign nationals they accused of operating brothels and drug dens.
Similar attacks have occurred in Pretoria North, Mamelodi and Atteridgeville, houses and businesses owned by foreigners were looted and set alight.
“We condemn in the strongest of terms the cowardly person or persons who incite violence against foreigners on social media, and we call upon the police to investigate and prosecute the culprits,” the Bishops said.
They appealed for all persons to “act within the law” and not to abuse the right to protest by fomenting hatred, division and violence.
“We support the statement of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) that no grievance justifies violent attacks against foreign nationals living in South Africa,” said the bishops.
“We also agree with the SACBC on the urgent need to address the competition for limited resources, public services and economic opportunities between foreigners and the unemployed poor in South Africa.”
The bishops’ Synod said: “South Africans and all people of God, we exhort you to love one another as God has loved us. God bless Africa”.
– African News Agency