ANC Daily News Briefing/Sapa/AFP, 20 July 2008
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Archbishop Desmond Tutu has apologised to victims of anti-immigrant violence in South Africa, in a sometimes tearful sermon to thousands from different faiths and backgrounds on Sunday. "The diocese of Johannesburg called together people and said we need to repent and so this is a service of repentance in which we confess our sins of xenophobia," the Nobel peace prize laureate told public television. The outspoken Tutu gave the service, his voice breaking as he recalled the violence in which over 60 people were killed in an outbreak of attacks against immigrants in May. "We were welcomed as exiles, as freedom fighters in those African lands. Could we really have forgotten so soon?" Tens of thousands of people were displaced in the violence, first fleeing to shelters and police stations, then to camps set up by the government. A similar number returned to their home countries. Angry locals trying to purge foreigners from poverty-stricken townships claimed immigrants were contributing to high crime rates and taking up jobs. "We won't tolerate this," Tutu told the crowd. "Those who have been victims, we want to tell them we are sorry and we will not repeat this."