Radebe: Xenophobic violence hitting economy

Cape Town - Attacks on foreigners in South Africa are damaging the country's international image as well as its economy, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said on Friday.

At a post-Cabinet briefing at Parliament, Radebe said: "The impact of these attacks has far-reaching implications on our economic, social (links) and relations with the (African) continent and the world.

"No amount of frustration or anger can justify these attacks and looting of shops. Whilst noting the issues raised by communities, violence towards another fellow human being can never solve these issues," he said.

In particular, the City of Durban - part of the eThekwini Municipality - and its black townships have been hit by violence directed against foreigners and their small businesses in the past week.

"It reflects badly on us as a people, going against the very ideals and foundations of our democracy," he said.

Noting that the attacks on foreign businesses in South Africa could have terrible consequences for South Africans operating businesses on the African continent, Radebe said: "South African companies who are running successful businesses on the continent who help to contribute to our revenue and sustaining our economy may suffer the same fate."

READ: Sasol workers in Mozambique protest against SA xenophobia

South African artists who were to showcase their craft across the borders, such as Big Nuz in Zimbabwe, Kelly Khumalo and Casper in London, have had their concerts cancelled as a result of the attacks domestically.

"Many of our communities who rely on shops owned by foreign nationals for their bread and butter are now stranded."

READ: Labour Wrap: Trade unions, xenophobia and law

Radebe said that economic cluster ministers like trade and industry, small business and social development were joining Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba in a Cabinet committee which would study the "underlying socio-economic conditions" which contributed to the attacks on foreigners.

"Those involved in those attacks should be aware of the huge damage that this is doing to the image of South Africa... we are the last people who should be accused... of such acts."

He said South African struggle fighters had been housed and supported all over Africa and the rest of the world. "The struggle against apartheid would not have been won were it not for the... anti-apartheid movement around the world."

South Africa now owes foreigners the right of respect. "Let us respect our African brothers," he said.

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