Xenophobic attacks were a national shame and should not be repeated again.
This was a passionate plea by President Cyril Ramaphosa following his return to the country after attending the funeral of former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe in Harare on Saturday.
Ramaphosa was a guest of honour at the Grace Bible Church in Pimville, Soweto, this morning when he pleaded with the congregants and Pastor Mosa Sono to help his government fight the scourge of xenophobia which hit parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
While on a charm offensive – Ramaphosa drew the attention of the hurt these attacks had on the people on the people of Zimbabwe – who booed him while he was addressing the funeral of former Zimbabwe president Robert Mugabe in Harare yesterday.
“This is the second time I was booed. The first time is when I introduced the national minimum wage for workers. I was booed by a certain group of people and those were the community health workers. They booed me because I did not mention them in the wage allocation.
“In Zimbabwe, I was booed by the whole stadium. I had to apologise to the people of Zimbabwe for the attacks. I do not want to call it xenophobic attacks. South Africans do not hate people of other nations.
“We had to offer an apology on behalf of the people of South Africa. We are loved in the continent. We are sought after country.
“I had to apologise because those attacks were a national shame,” Ramaphosa insisted.
He emphasised that South Africans are not xenophobic saying do not hate people from other nations.
However, Ramaphosa said South Africa is now faced with a much bigger problem of tribalism in the wake of fatal xenophobic attacks which claimed the lives of more local citizens in the past two weeks.
He said he addressed a gathering in Ekurhuleni in which certain grouping in the crowd were making a call for the Shangaan speaking people to leave the area.
“They were saying Shangaans must leave. The Vendas must leave. The next thing they will say the Batswanas must leave. The BaXhosa must leave. Who is going to remain?
“Who is going to remain. We must defeat the demon of tribalism,” Ramaphosa urged.
He thanked the church for its role in bridging the difference between those who were responsible for the attacks.
He also thanked the church for assisting people who were displaced as a result of the attacks but noted that some of the people who too refugee in church and community halls were actually South Africans.