President Jacob Zuma called for calm and restraint on Friday, after a march against crime in Pretoria turned violent.
Zuma urged communities especially those in the Tshwane Metro to work with law enforcement authorities to fight against crime as the primary cause of the tensions that have arisen between South Africans and non-nationals.
“In South Africa, we respect the Human Rights of all people and we are a not a xenophobic country and we would not have such a number of immigrants within our country and at our borders, many of whom have genuine reasons of fleeing their countries including economic and education opportunities, if we were a xenophobic country,” Zuma said in a statement.
He also cautioned against labelling the fight against crime as xenophobic. Zuma said that South Africans could not be accused of xenophobia because the country had more immigrants than Europe and had effectively integrated them within all communities across the country.
“At the same time, we cannot close our eyes to the concerns of the communities that most of the crimes such as drug dealing, prostitution and human trafficking are allegedly perpetuated by foreign nationals,” Zuma said in a statement.
“The community frustrations are sparked by high levels of criminal activities particularly drugs trafficking, under-age prostitution and human trafficking which are impacting on the youth negatively and are alleged to be perpetuated by the foreign nationals,” he said.
“But the march in Pretoria today, which was also attended by foreign nationals, was an anti-crime not anti-foreigners and we appeal to all the marchers to protest within the confines of the law. No destruction of property, no burning and barricading of roads, violence or killing of people would never be tolerated and the law will take its course.”
Zuma called a meeting with the ministers in the justice, crime prevention and security cluster and directed them to look at further ways to increase the fight against crime as “South Africa simply could not continue to co-exist with crime,” the Presidency said.
“I will be talking to the police again to follow up on the meeting with the Security Cluster on the measures to undertake in this fight and how government will support the law enforcement authorities,” he said. The President reiterated that any person who commits a crime should be dealt with in terms of the law irrespective of whether it’s a local or foreign national person,” Zuma said.
“We also want to warn foreign nationals to live and operate within our laws and know that they will be brought to book if they commit any crime within the Republic.”
He urged all citizens and non-South Africans to work together with law enforcement agencies to fight crime and expose the instigators of criminal activities including drug-lords, illegal brothel owners and human traffickers.
He said citizens cannot co-exist with crime, criminals — whether they are South Africans or foreign nationals — must be dealt with harshly but within the ambit of the law.
Zuma reassured all non-South Africans that their rights would always be protected where they live and work according to the laws of South Africa.
“We urge unity among both our citizens and non-nationals in the fight against crime,” the President concluded.
– African News Agency