Issued by The Presidency, 23 May 2008
The recent attacks on foreigners in South Africa have been and must be further condemned. While it is presently an issue that is concerning us (South Africa) directly, and we are dealing with it, it is a matter that all of us have to grapple with, as government, country and individuals. Violence anywhere perpetrated against anyone is simply not acceptable and cannot be condoned. Not yesterday, not today and not in the future.
I cannot believe that the issue is about JOBS. I cannot believe that normal South Africans are anti their African brothers and sisters. I just cannot believe this. While we do not have ALL the facts, I can say that South Africans have always appreciated the hospitality shown them by the African continent, their African brothers and sisters, during the dark days of apartheid. We appreciated the assistance then, as we still do, and remember even today. And that is why I find it difficult to believe that these (JOBS) are the reasons being put forward for this violence against foreigners.
Unfortunately, and as emotional as the situation might be, the reasons and the facts around these attacks have sometimes been distorted. The distortions find themselves into the detail of those killed and the reasons why. I am calling for calm – level headedness and responsibility. Our sincere condolences go out to the families of those who have been harmed and killed as a direct and indirect result of this violence.
We appreciate the efforts by all who have taken to the streets to assist in this time of crisis, the churches, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), security establishments, individuals. All who have come forward to assist and say what I can do. We cannot sit back and say as individuals that this is not our problem. We are all affected and should all be involved in speaking out against this violence.
Let me quote recent comments and concerns by my President - President Thabo Mbeki on this matter.
"As South Africans, we must recognise and fully appreciate that we are bound together with other Africans by history, culture, 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."
(Quotes from President Thabo Mbeki)
Let there be re-assurance that we are doing all in our power to stop this violence. That we will get to the root causes, and that in the longer term we will find solutions to these sometimes complex problems.
I want to apologise to those who have been affected and want to give the assurance that those who are responsible will be dealt with by the law. The acts over the last few weeks are nothing else but criminal and we will not allow them to destabilise the country and our relations with the citizens of all other countries.