South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has dispatched a team of senior government officials to deliver messages of solidarity to the leaders of Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia following recent deadly xenophobic attacks by South Africans on expatriates from those countries
The message is said to contain an apology from Ramaphosa, however, some sectors are of the opinion that it comes a bit too late after deaths were recorded in attacks targeted at over 1 000 foreign-owned businesses in that country. So far, at least 12 people have been killed and thousands displaced during the fatal attacks.
The violence that engulfed South Africa in the past few weeks was sparked by the killing of taxi driver Jabu Baloyi in Pretoria in late August. Reports state that the alleged drug dealer, a foreign national, shot and killed Baloyi, who had apparently been trying to stop the peddling of drugs. After the killing, South African taxi drivers and locals instantly retaliated, taking the matter into their own hands.
According to Ramaphosa’s spokesperson Khusela Diko, the team of special envoys led by South African Energy Minister Jeff Radebe will deliver a message “regarding the incidents of violence that recently erupted in some parts South Africa, which have manifested in attacks on foreign nationals and destruction of property”.
“The special envoys are tasked with reassuring fellow African countries that South Africa is committed to the ideals of pan-African unity and solidarity. The special envoys will also reaffirm South Africa’s commitment to the rule of law,” said Diko.
“The special envoys will brief governments in the identified African countries about the steps that the South African government is taking to bring a stop to the attacks and to hold the perpetrators to account,” she said.
On Friday, Ramaphosa visited the home of Baloyi where he used the opportunity to commit to ensuring that xenophobic attacks are swiftly dealt with.
“We are totally committed against attacks on foreign nationals, including xenophobic tendencies or feelings towards others. We need as South Africans to deal with the challenges that we face, whether it is job issues, drugs or whatever, but as we do all that, we should also make sure that we do not take out our anger on people from other nations and indeed against anyone among us as well,” said Ramaphosa.
A number of foreign nationals have opted to leave South Africa with immediate effect after the attacks, citing a fear for their lives, with some turning to local authorities for help.
In the city of Ekurhuleni, a group of Mozambicans took shelter in the hall provided by the local disaster and emergency management service department. For those who want to leave South Africa, the department sends vehicles to escort the foreign nationals to the border post safely.
“We can confirm that we have got 125 Mozambican nationals that left here at this hall, the DH Williams Hall, on three buses and a truck. Some of the adults have got their children with them,” William Ntladi, spokesman of the disaster and emergency services of the city of Ekurhuleni said.
Many Mozambicans fled the violence, after also losing everything. Despite the dangerous situation, some still want to stay in South Africa and start earning money again.
“I am going to stay, because I am known to the people (here). So I can have something to go home and give my children, give my mother. You know what I am saying, because that side, there is no money. I am just came here. I am looking for some money,” said Kalisto Fernando Ngwela, a Mozambican national.
Ramaphosa has opted to delegate the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Minister to lead South Africa’s delegation to the United Nations General Assembly later this month to allow him to concentrate on critical issues in the country.