Gauteng Premier David Makhura on Friday called on all political leaders to do whatever they could to stop the xenophobic attacks against foreign nationals.
Violence broke out in various parts of Pretoria during an anti-immigrant protest march that was organised by a group calling themselves “The Mamelodi Concerned Residents”.
Addressing the provincial legislature, Makhura said there was no place in the country’s democracy for individuals who violated the right to life.
“Let us unite in calling for calm, let us urge our people not to resort to vigilantism. We cannot afford to see the killing of foreign nationals. Let us all stand up and say, not in our name,” said Makhura.
The premier urged all South Africans to change attitudes towards people from other parts of Africa and to fight against xenophobia wherever and whenever it manifested itself.
“Our diversity makes up the beautiful colours of the rainbow. Societal prejudices need to be tackled, and we should not criminalise a nationality or criminalise the entire group, but we should deal with the criminals.
“Those who are attacking foreign nationals may do it to you tomorrow. Stand up and be counted. You are your brother’s keeper. The perpetrators of xenophobic attacks do not belong in our society. They must be prosecuted. We must defeat xenophobia, like apartheid,” Makhura said.
He said that Gauteng was the most cosmopolitan and Afropolitan province and should take the lead in building a society that reaffirmed common humanity and a common identity.
In 2016, Gauteng established social cohesion champions, a team of eminent people assigned to work with organisations and communities to build a common understanding and enable a favourable environment for peaceful coexistence.
Their specific mandate includes facilitating open and frank conversations on racism and xenophobia among various sectors of the population in Gauteng and recommending a provincial plan of action to combat racism and xenophobia.