Business Day/Sapa, 23 May 2008

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A delegation of business leaders, led by Business Unity SA (Busa) chairman Bobby Godsell and CEO Jerry Vilakazi, met community leaders from Alexandra yesterday to hear their side of the story, and to condemn the xenophobic violence that has engulfed parts of Gauteng. The group included Transnet head Maria Ramos and FirstRand CEO Sizwe Nxasana. The violence was damaging SAís image, Busa president Brian Molefe said. As a short-term measure, he said, the business community would offer blankets to the Gauteng Provincial Disaster Management Centre, and in the long term they would engage the government in matters pertaining to unemployment, housing and crime. Meanwhile, Deputy Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said in Durban yesterday that the departmentís poor performance had played some role in sharpening xenophobic tensions. Gigaba said he had to be candid and admit that the department had serious deficiencies. Its failure to process applications for immigration, study permits and refugee status has condemned millions of immigrants to an existence that is both outside the law and economically marginal. Gigaba shared the platform with KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sbu Ndebele, who advocated a zero tolerance approach to xenophobia.