Zuma apologises to Mozambicans for xenophobic violence

MAPUTO — South African President Jacob Zuma apologised to Mozambicans on Wednesday for a recent outbreak of xenophobic violence in which at least seven people died and hundreds of migrants were forced to flee their homes.

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Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS

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Speaking at the start of a two-day state visit to Maputo, Mr Zuma said the attacks — which included the murder of a Mozambican man captured by a press photographer — “shocked us and disturbed us”.

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Apologising on behalf of the “small minority of South Africans” involved in the violence, Mr Zuma said: “The Mozambicans are our brothers, our sisters, that’s like a family problem really.”

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Rampant unemployment and poverty are seen as contributing to the violence by South Africans, who accuse migrants from Mozambique and other neighbouring countries of stealing their jobs.

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Since the end of apartheid 21 years ago, SA has attracted millions of migrants seeking a better life in the continent’s most advanced economy.

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Mr Zuma pledged to address “some of the underlying factors” to ensure that the attacks against foreigners did not erupt again, without elaborating.

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While condemning the violence, SA has also cracked down on illegal immigrants in a series of raids in which 1,650 people have been arrested.

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More than 400 Mozambicans were expelled on Friday and 427 others are slated to be deported soon.

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Mr Zuma is in Maputo at the invitation of President Filipe Nyusi, with the visit set to focus on bilateral and regional co-operation.

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Mozambique is SA’s top trading partner in Africa, with two-way trade worth R43.9bn last year.

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AFP