Minister slams SA politicians for inciting violence
South Africa's Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba has challenged political leaders to avoid making statements that incite hostility against immigrants.
Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba has come under heavy scrutiny in recent days over his pronouncements about immigrants.
Mr Gigaba walked with other government officials in Johannesburg's areas previously affected by xenophobia, but snubbed Mr Mashaba.
The Mayor belongs to the opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA).
“It may make one popular leader to say irresponsible statements that could incite vigilantism, but leaders have a responsibility to be measured in their public pronouncements. They must understand that there could be lives lost, property destroyed, which belongs to private individuals who invest enormously on the development and maintenance,” Mr Gigaba said.
Mr Gigaba started his walkabout around the Johannesburg CBD - Yeoville and Hillbrow - before going to Mayfair and Rosettenville where several houses were burnt over the weekend by angry community members.
Community leader Siphiwe Hlafa took Mr Gigaba and his entourage to two houses that were burnt down in Rosettenville.
He alleged that foreign nationals had illegally taken over the houses and turned them into drug and prostitution dens.
“They don’t live in the houses, they bring girls aged between 9 and 14. They feed them drugs all day and release them at night as prostitutes. When we try to highlight the problem through the structures it doesn’t help. We had no intention to burn houses, but we wanted to have the girls moved from these houses,” Mr Hlafa said.
Mr Gigaba stressed that inflammatory remarks by politicians could potentially ruin relations with the international community.
“It may not mean much to you as a leader considering that some of your friends are far away. But for us who are hell-bent on establishing good neighbourliness and relations of solidarity with our neighbours in SADC, the way we relate with immigrants must be in accordance with our laws and human rights ethos and the constitution,” he said.
He told residents that violence would not solve problems.
"Crime is not only done by foreigners, we would be lying if we say that," he said.
The African Diaspora Forum (ADM) recently wrote to President Jacob Zuma asking him to address the inflammatory memo circulating in Mamelodi, Pretoria calling for South Africans to march against foreign nationals on February 24.
The memo, signed by “Mamelodi concerned residence”, has triggered fears of a new outbreak of xenophobic violence.
It has also been circulating on social media.
The memo questions why foreigners were being given jobs ahead of South Africans.
The Presidency was yet to respond to the memo.