International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor has said that she thought it was local media that was depicting South African as xenophobic.
This after recent xenophobic violence and attacks broke out in the Gauteng province.
Pandor was briefing the media on the country’s participation in the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).
The minister urged “the media to send a different message that we believe the recent events of attacks against foreign nationals are of concern”.
Pandor further said that President Cyril Ramaphosa had been addressing communities and different structures regarding the xenophobic violence and attacks.
The South African ministerial delegation to the UNGA intended to use the platform as an opportunity to speak “of the unfortunate and tragic events of the past two weeks and to repeat our belief in African unity, peace and friendship,” Pandor said.
TimesLive reported that at the UNGA, the delegation would also clarify that South Africa was not a xenophobic country, the minister said.
Pandor reportedly added that it was local media that promotes the xenophobia narrative.
The xenophobic violence and attacks were a complex matter which needed to be contextualised, Pandor reportedly said.
The minister was quoted as saying that local media should rather send a message to the world and to South Africans that the country welcomed all people and that the recent xenophobic violence and attacks were not tolerated by anyone and had been a shame to the country.
“I note the resistance of the media, even when respected actors in matters of human rights have said it is wrong to call South Africans xenophobic. The events that have happened are of concern, but maintaining this notion, which the media seems intent to do, is a problem for us,” Pandor was quoted as saying.
The minister said the media should play a role in changing the perception of South Africa and in providing education rather than enhancing fear, antipathy, and negativity.
Pandor reportedly said that at the UNGA she would convey that the country was dealing with a very complex issue and that South African regretted the xenophobic violence and attacks and would ensure it would not reoccur.
“We will do more to ensure we build bridges between South Africans and non-nationals in our country.”
(Compiled by Makhosandile Zulu.)