Treat refugees with respect - Pandor

The Home Affairs minister marked World Refugee Day by denouncing xenophobia.

Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor. Picture: Aletta Gardner/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor has commemorated World Refugee Day by denouncing xenophobia in South Africa.

Speaking in Pretoria on Thursday, Pandor said the degrading treatment of African foreign nationals was a threat to South Africa's democracy.

She reminded the country that other African nations offered asylum to leaders exiled during the Apartheid era and many fellow Africans lost their lives supporting the anti-Apartheid struggle.

Pandor slammed attacks on immigrants as being tantamount to racism.

The minister's spokesperson Lunga Ngqengelele said South Africans need to understand the anguish of refugees.

"For people to decide to run away from their countries; it's not an easy decision. For South Africans to treat refugees in a manner that they treat them, sometimes is really double blow."

In May, several foreign-owned spaza shops were looted in Diepsloot and Port Elizabeth.

A Somali national was stabbed to death in Port Elizabeth while a mob looted his shop.

Scores of people were arrested for public violence.

Government condemned the attacks labelling them "criminal activity."