“We can say today, on Freedom Day, the violence has stopped. The attacks on our fellow brothers and sisters have stopped,” said Makhura to huge applause from a crowd gathered on the Union Buildings lawn.
He added that there was no justification for killing fellow Africans and said the violence of recent weeks must never be repeated.
“We don’t accept any justification with regards to the violence perpetrated against our foreign nationals, fellow brothers and sisters, in our continent,” said Makhura.
“We continue to condemn the attacks on our brothers and sisters. We will make sure these barbaric acts never take place in our country. We are one people, one humanity.”
He said President Jacob Zuma had shown decisive leadership during the wave of attacks on foreign nationals that displaced thousands and prompted Nigeria to recall its acting high commissioner to Pretoria.
“We will continue to work with civic society and communities on the ground to integrate all the displaced brothers and sisters across the country.”
A large crowd began filing into a white marquee tent erected on the lawn in front of the Union Buildings early in the morning. Many were singing and wore yellow African National Congress t-shirts, others sported green and black ANC Women’s League regalia.
The celebrations this year mark 21 years since the advent of democracy and are being held under the theme “Celebrating the third decade of our freedom through accelerating radical economic transformation”.
The crowd cheered as Zuma arrived in the presidential convoy. His arrival was marked by a 21-gun salute and a fly-past by the South African Air Force.