Xenophobia: SA companies operating in rest of Africa ‘may be at risk of reprisal attacks’

MINISTER in the Presidency Jeff Radebe warned on Friday that South African companies trading in other African countries could be at risk as a result of the xenophobic attacks against foreign nationals in recent weeks.

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Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe briefs the media regarding the remains of South Africans killed in a building collapse in Nigeria.  Picture: GCIS

Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe briefs the media. File picture. Picture: GCIS

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He said the Cabinet had expressed concern over the harm being done to SA’s reputation as a result of two weeks of attacks on foreigners, which have spread from KwaZulu-Natal to Gauteng.

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This came within hours of President Jacob Zuma taking the unusual step on Thursday of making a special statement to the National Assembly condemning the violence.

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Mr Radebe would not be drawn on what intelligence was used as the basis for the statement that South African companies were possibly at risk of reprisal attacks. But he noted that South African artists recently had to cancel concerts in Zimbabwe and in London.

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“The impact of these attacks has far-reaching implications for our economic and social relations with the continent and the world. South African companies who are running successful businesses on the continent who help to contribute to our revenue and sustaining our economy may suffer the same fate.

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“Recently, South African artists who were to showcase their craft outside the borders of our country, such as BigNuz in Zimbabwe, Kelly Khumalo and Casper Nyovest in London, have had their concerts cancelled as a result of these attacks. Many of our communities who relied on shops owned by foreign nationals for their bread and butter are now stranded,” Mr Radebe said.

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Responding to questions, he said the point Cabinet was making was that the perpetrators of xenophobic violence should be aware of the “huge, huge damage that is being done”.

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He repeated Mr Zuma’s strong condemnation, saying: “Cabinet condemns in the strongest terms the recent acts of violence against foreign nationals. At this point, Cabinet would like to extend its heartfelt condolences to the families of those who lost their lives and a speedy recovery to those who are injured.

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“No amount of frustration or anger can justify these attacks and looting of shops. While noting the issues raised by communities, violence towards another fellow human being can never solve these issues. Rather, it reflects badly on us as a people, going against the very ideals and foundations of our democracy. South Africa fought against colonialism and apartheid alongside fellow Africans so that all humanity on our continent should be respected and treated with dignity.”

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Mr Radebe said SA was a free country and this was attained through the contributions of a number of African countries.

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“Our own late icon President Oliver Tambo was accommodated for close to 30 years in Zambia and many other South Africans that lived in exile. Fellow African countries did not only host our people, they also contributed resources and some paid the ultimate price and lost their own citizens in the course of South Africa attaining democracy”.

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He reiterated that Mr Zuma had tasked the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster ministers together with ministers of Small Business Development, Trade and Industry and Social Development to engage all the relevant parties to seek a solution.

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The ministers have also been tasked with dealing with the underlying socioeconomic conditions that seem to be at the heart of these attacks, so that this matter can be dealt with “decisively and comprehensively”. – Bdlive