BuaNews, 10 June 2008
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A moment of silence was observed in Parliament on Tuesday for those who had lost their lives in the recent spate of violence that hit South Africa. Minister of Home Affairs, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula called for the moment of silence during her department's Budget Vote, which she delivered in the Old Assembly. "On behalf of all South Africans who have embraced and continue to work tirelessly for democracy, I apologise to all those South Africans and foreign nationals who fell victim to the crimes of hate that have blotted our image at home and abroad," the minister said. The minister said Wednesday marked a month since the attacks on people from other countries broke out in the township of Alexandra in Johannesburg. Since then 60 people have died, 22 of them were South Africans, 10 were from Mozambique, five were from Zimbabwe and one was from Somalia. "While many South Africans from all walks of life have already expressed outrage and condemnation for this deplorable acts of prejudice, we want to use the opportunity of this budget debate to rededicate all our people to the principles of human solidarity, compassion, the fight against prejudice, and the cooperation of all sections of our society to find lasting solutions to the problems facing our country and our region," said the minister. She said that the response of the country and government demonstrated "that which we can achieve as society when we work together". The minister recalled that in September 2001, the country witnessed one of "our proudest moments" as a nation when we successfully hosted the UN World Conference against Racism Xenophobia and other related Intolerances. "Other nations chose South Africa as an exemplary and fitting host for that historic conference. "We pledged to enjoin our voice in declaring this century, as the century to advance the fight to end racism, xenophobia and other intolerances. "We need to answer the question as to why is it that today the world has reason to doubt our commitment to this very declaration made here on our soil." Ms Mapisa-Nqakula said that to wrongfully educate young people that their suffering was caused by the arrival of people from other countries ran against the ethos on which our democracy was fought for. She said the real damage and after effects of these acts of criminality, committed, will still be felt in the country long after the tents have been dismantled, and beyond the street patrols of police and soldiers in communities. "It will remain in the minds of our children who witnessed and participated in these horrific incidences. "It will define the lessons we are teaching these children about how they should deal with challenges and how to treat other human beings in the future." She reiterated that despite the problems that South Africans face, they should find constructive ways to engage with each other and find solutions to those problems.