Amakhosi lead fight against xenophobia

2015-04-21 16:40

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Traditional leaders have vowed to mobilise their communities to be on the alert for any incitement of xenophobic attacks in their areas and spread the message of peace, chairperson of the National House of Traditional Leaders Kgosi Pontsho Maobane has said.

Maobane was speaking at a press briefing in Pretoria today after a lengthy meeting with Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Pravin Gordhan.

The meeting was attended by all 32 leaders of national and provincial traditional houses, who denounced the violence perpetuated against foreign nationals as embarrassing and senseless.

Gordhan said the government would ensure that all foreigners were protected and also spoke about the importance of educating South Africans about the role they should play as part of the continent.

“This meeting demonstrates that traditional leaders are one with the government on the message that there is no place for xenophobic attacks in South Africa. There are few criminals in our ranks who are responsible for these attacks. These attacks must stop because South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity,” said Gordhan, urging all South Africans to isolate perpetrators.

He said although initiatives calling for an end to the violence were working, the government would institute a long-term programme to enhance social cohesion in the country.

“What’s important now is not only what the government does but what all of us will do. The next journey is about building social cohesion and we all need to make a contribution,” said Gordhan.

Maobane said: “We will join the government to communicate the key messages and mobilise traditional structures to be on the alert to curb the attacks. We need to stop the attacks because this is not who we are as a nation because whatever stereotypes or perceptions we may have about foreign nationals are invalid.”

Gordhan said his department would communicate with more than 270 municipal councillors to also spread the message of peace in their communities.

“We will have an intensified consultation with all our people around the country to identify problems that have given rise to the attacks. But as government we need to be a lot more proactive and have a continuous programme over the next few years on social cohesion and to educate the public,” said Gordhan.

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