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Ramaphosa: Xenophobia puts South Africans abroad at risk of retaliatory attacks

There is 'no justification to blame foreigners for lack of jobs. This must be stopped,' President Cyril Ramaphosa said in a video posted on Twitter on Tuesday afternoon.

President Cyril Ramaphosa. @PresidencyZA/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG – President Cyril Ramaphosa warned of reprisal attacks on South Africans working in other countries if violence against foreign nationals continued.

He said there was "no justification to attack people from other countries. We need to act in a way we give respect to people from other countries, and we need to deal with our own problems and discuss issues. We cannot accept
that South Africans don't welcome other people from other countries,” he said in a video published on Twitter on Tuesday.

The president said the country was completely committed against xenophobia. In the past few months, the government has come under criticism for failing to acknowledge that attacks on foreign nationals amounted to xenophobia. Instead, several ministers called the attacks criminality and lawlessness.

"Talks about Africa free trade - our drivers will be afraid to drive in other countries," he added.

He added that there was "no justification to blame foreigners for lack of jobs. This must be stopped."

Ramaphosa said the attacks and lootings completely went against the ethos South Africa espouses.

“… And there can be no justification whatsoever about what people are aggrieved over that they should go out and attack people from other countries. Because when they do so here, they should know that fellow South Africans will be attacked in other countries."

He added that: “The attacks on people who run businesses from foreign nationals, it’s something totally unacceptable. It’s something that we cannot allow to happen in South Africa.”

South Africa has been condemned by the Nigerian government and the African Union.

The Nigerian High Commissioner to South Africa ambassador Kabiru Bala offered safety to Nigerians in the country through a statement on Tuesday.

The statement added that any action taken hurriedly that may jeopardise the “arduous task of engaging the South African government through diplomatic channels to bring the situation under control and to restore normalcy.”

The African Union Commission chair Moussa Faki Mahamat said he was encouraged by arrests made by South African authorities.

"We call for further immediate steps to protect the lives of people and their property, ensure that all perpetrators are brought to account for their acts and that justice be done to those who suffered economic and other losses," Mahamat said through a statement.

Looting has been reported in a number of areas in Gauteng, including Jeppestown, Malvern, Alexandra, Ekurhuleni and Sunnyside in Pretoria on Monday.

Meanwhile, Police Minister Bheki Cele described the situation in the Johannesburg CBD as a national emergency, saying more officers would be deployed to deal with the unrest.

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