South Africans are not xenophobic

Ramaphosa booed at Mugabe service

17 September 2019 | Africa

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa has apologised for the violent attacks by South Africans against nationals of other African countries, saying South Africans are not xenophobic.

Speaking at the funeral of former Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe, Ramaphosa told the booing crowd that the recent violent attacks in South Africa went against the African Union's unity principles.

“We have had acts of violence in some parts in our country, some of which were directed at nationals of other African countries.

“This has led, as I can hear as you are responding to, the death and injury of a number of people, some of whom were nationals of other countries and the majority South Africans.

“I stand before you as a fellow African to express my regret and apologies for what has happened in our country,” he said to loud applause.

Ramaphosa added that his government was working hard to encourage South Africans to embrace people from all African countries.

“Your Excellencies, I would like to thank you for the support that you have offered us as South Africans during the difficult time. I would like to state it here and now that South Africans are not xenophobic. South Africans are not against nationals from other countries. We welcome people from other countries,” he said.

Ramphosa's apology followed recent attacks of black-on-black violence in South Africa which saw a number of foreign nationals attacked, shops looted and property vandalised.

Many have been arrested and hundreds of immigrants, including Nigerians and Zimbabweans, have left the country.

These xenophobic attacks are not new to South Africa. Dozens of people were killed in similar attacks in 2008 and again in 2018.

Yesterday, News24 reported that President Cyril Ramaphosa is sending special envoys to deliver messages of solidarity to several heads of state and governments across Africa amid tensions and violence in the country.

The team, which includes Jeff Radebe, Ambassador Kingsley Mmabolo, and Dr Khulu Mbatha are expected to visit Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Senegal, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia.

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JEMIMA BEUKES