Genevieve Quintal
Johannesburg – The attacks on foreign nationals are a shameful assault on humanity, the African National Congress said on Wednesday. “As South Africans, the far vast majority of whom are deeply rooted in values of humanity, solidarity and brotherhood, we are forced to once again hang our heads in shame in the face of these misguided and misplaced assaults,” national spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said.

“The very real challenges faced by the South African people of poverty, unemployment and underdevelopment cannot be blamed on people of foreign nationality.”

‘Immigrants are not the enemy’

He said the party was aware of concerns raised by small business owners who were unhappy about the presence of immigrants in their communities. This was why government had established the department of small business development, he said.

“Attacking our African compatriots will not resolve the problem.

“Long before the influx of people from other parts of Africa into South Africa, our country has battled with an unequal society as a legacy of our exclusionary and racist past. Immigrants are not the enemy,” Kodwa said.

Small Business Minister Lindiwe Zulu came under fire earlier this year following comments she had made in the aftermath of the attacks and looting of foreign owned shops in Soweto, Johannesburg.

Zulu told Business Day at the time that foreign business owners in the country’s townships could not expect to co-exist peacefully with local business owners unless they shared their trade secrets.

“Foreigners need to understand that they are here as a courtesy and our priority is to the people of this country first and foremost,” she was quoted as saying.

“A platform is needed for business owners to communicate and share ideas. They cannot barricade themselves in and not share their practices with local business owners.”

‘Barbaric acts’

In KwaZulu-Natal police have been involved in running battles with locals and foreigners following attacks and looting on shops in and around Durban.

At least five people have been killed – including a teenager – and 46 people have been arrested since the violence flared in Isipingo, outside Durban on Friday.

Around 7 000 people of different nationalities are living in tents provided by the provincial government for those displaced by the violence.

The ANC on Wednesday called on communities around the country to stop these “barbaric acts” which fed into a narrative of a violent society, devoid of compassion.

“The law enforcement agencies must act without any fear or favour to halt this state of affairs and bring all transgressors to book.

“It is not the role of or communities to violently police the legality or lack thereof of those who reside amongst us,” he said.-News24