STATEMENT BY PRESIDENT THABO MBEKI REGARDING ATTACKS ON FOREIGN NATIONALS

Issued by The Presidency, 19 May 2008


President Thabo Mbeki today reiterated his call for an immediate stop to attacks on foreign nationals resident in our country. The President said attacks on any person for whatever reason are unjustified and that everything possible will be done to bring the perpetrators to book.

The President said:

"Citizens from other countries on the African continent and beyond are as human as we are and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Our humanism as a people enjoins all of us to respect, care, co-operate and act in solidarity with others regardless of their nationality.

"We dehumanise ourselves the moment we start thinking of another person as less human than we are simply because they come from another country. Humanity is indivisible. As we have seen, what breaks the fabric of respect for others and for the law opens the way for further forms of criminality.

"As South Africans, we must recognise and fully appreciate that we are bound together with other Africans by history, culture, and economics and above all, by destiny. South Africa is not and will never be an island separate from the rest of the continent.

"We dare not loose sight of the fundamental reality of our interdependence as the people of Africa.

"I call upon those behind these shameful and criminal acts to stop! Nothing can justify it. The law-enforcement agencies must and will respond with the requisite measures against anyone found to be involved in these attacks.

"Furthermore, I would like to thank all members of the public, as well as political and community leaders who have joined calls for the immediate ending of these attacks. In particular, I would like to thank those who have lent a helping hand to the victims by, amongst others, offering shelter, clothes and food. They have demonstrated a true South African spirit. Let us all work together to make it impossible for the few criminals in our midst to realise their inhuman objectives.

"Everything possible will be done to bring the perpetrators to book. Already, more than 200 alleged perpetrators have been arrested. Both the Minister of Safety and Security and the Acting National Police Commissioner are keeping me informed of developments and I am confident that the police will soon make significant breakthroughs in getting to the root of this anarchy."