South Africans are sick and leaders must stand up against violence, according to Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula.
He was commenting yesterday on the spike in reports of violence against women and children over the past two weeks, as well as the ongoing attacks against foreigner-owned businesses in the poorer areas of Gauteng.
“That is who we are. The image we have got – we are xenophobic and we kill our women.
“That’s what we do – and it’s not only done by an uncivilised person … it is done by lawyers and priests. It is done by people who are well educated and they beat up their wives.
“Sitting here with a nice suit, I could be something else in my home. Now it needs us that are in government [to] lead.”
Giving his address on his first 100 days in office, the former police minister highlighted the complexities of immigration from other African countries, condemned xenophobia and lamented the number of undocumented immigrants in the country.
Mbalula said his department was working with others to intensify its operations controlling access to the borders in a bid to prevent “illegal trucks” from entering the country.
“Our ineptness to act and to be decisive leads to society feeling helpless and taking the law into their own hands … undermining the authority of the state.”
While condemning violence against foreigners which was hurting international relations, he said it was important for government to deal with the immigration issues which affected mostly poor people.
“We know that the employment of foreign nationals in our country … has got to do with exploitation,” said Mbalula.
“It’s not xenophobia it’s [a question of], can we regulate the system, which we must, to ensure that our people are fed, and that is it.
“And what they can use to get some meat on the table through spaza shops – it is basically protected.
“In my [home town] every spaza shop there is taken over by foreigners. All the tycoons in the township have died and then we talk about the xenophobia.”