Issued by the Congress of South African Trade Unions, 13 May 2008

The Congress of South African Trade Union, Gauteng Province, condemns the violent, xenophobic attacks on foreigners taking place in Alexandra at the moment, and those which have occurred previously in Diepsloot, Atteridgeville and elsewhere.

COSATU urges all residents to remain calm and assist the police to identify and apprehend anyone guilty of criminal acts. We urge the Johannesburg Metropolitan Council to provide shelter for those who have lost their homes or cannot return home for fear of attack. We also urge the Department of Home Affairs to do more to assist immigrants.

The federation understands that the underlying cause of xenophobia is the intolerable levels of poverty, unemployment and crime, and the shortage of housing, in poor communities. People's frustration is understandable, but there can be no excuse for placing the blame for these problems on immigrants who have been forced to flee from even worse conditions in other parts of Africa, especially Zimbabwe. The poor working-class South African and immigrant people have a common interest in fighting to improve their conditions and fighting each other will only make the problems even worse.

COSATU welcomes the proposed Summit meeting to be convened by the Johannesburg Metropolitan Council and will be organising a workshop to educate residents on the best way to deal with the social problems afflicting poor communities and on the dangers of xenophobia.