Pretoria - International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane sought to assure African heads of diplomatic missions on Friday that the country was dealing with the recent spate of xenophobic attacks."We said that the violent attacks against foreign nationals in some parts of the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Gatenby are despicable and that the South African government condemns them in the strongest terms possible," Nkoana-Mashabane said."We took the African diplomatic corps into confidence on the practical measures that are being taken by the security agencies to bring to justice those who are responsible for the violence and related criminal acts."The meeting followed the xenophobic attacks that had swept through KwaZulu-Natal, before spilling over into Gauteng in recent days.Nkoana-Mashabane said President Jacob Zuma had announced a series of measures aimed at bringing the violence, looting and displacement of individuals and families to an end."We believe we can defeat this demon and the resolve of the South African government and the support that has been pledged by our sister countries is all that we need to nip this in the bud," she said.Dean of the African Diplomatic Corps, Bene M'Poko, said the message from the meeting was that the attacks needed to be stopped immediately."We as Africans and South Africans are going to work together to end this violence," M'Poko said."We have defeated colonialism and apartheid by working together. So we are confident that if we put our heads together, we will stop these acts of violence."Nkoana-Mashabane said South Africa had not forgotten the hospitality and support it had received from other African countries during the anti-apartheid struggle."It is, therefore, with a deep sense of pain and regret that we as the South African government humbled ourselves before the African diplomatic community in our meeting with them today," she said."We expressed, through them, our heartfelt apologies to the African continent and people for the actions of those of our citizens who have behaved in a shameful manner."She said there had been no indication from the diplomatic representatives from the 53 countries at the meeting that there would be a backlash due to the attacks on its citizens in South Africa.Meanwhile, State Security Minister David Mahlobo denied that the intelligence services were caught off guard by the xenophobic attacks."When it [xenophobic attacks] started to flare-up our intelligence services were able to pick up these messages... we are starting to see co-ordination of these activities," Mahlobo said."Therefore, intelligence must be on alert and for this particular incident it is not correct to say intelligence were sleeping."