By Staff Writer
South African President Jacob Zuma has called for unity among citizens and non-nationals in the fight against crime as he denied xenophobia in his country. He publicly pronounced that “South Africa is not a xenophobic country and that the human rights of all people are respected in the country. He was making a statement after an Anti- Immigration march to the Department of Home Affairs in Pretoria, was organized to protest against illegal immigrants in South Africa. A local group calling itself “Mamelodi Concerned Residents” organized the march accusing Nigerian nationals living in the country of running drug and sex work houses which are rife in their communities.
The march which was initially meant to be a protest against crime was marred by violence, looting and destruction of property. This has since increased the tensions between South Africans and non-national in both Pretoria and Johannesburg to an extent that the Nigerian government called for intervention by the African Union, while the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation condemned the march and asked government to urgently address the systemic inefficiencies that lead to xenophobic violence in the country.
However, President Zuma cautioned against labeling the fight against crime as xenophobic, saying South Africans can never be accused of xenophobia because the country carried the most number of immigrants than Europe and had effectively integrated them within all communities across the country, including townships like Mamelodi and Soshanguve in Tshwane as well as Soweto and many parts of Johannesburg. “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,” President Zuma observed. He noted that at the same time authorities cannot close their 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. President Zuma appealed to foreign nationals to live and operate within the laws and know that they will be brought to book if they commit any crime within the Republic of South Africa.