Zuma: We can't expect the angels to watch our borders

2015-04-27 13:18
President Jacob Zuma.  (Themba Hadebe, AP)

President Jacob Zuma. (Themba Hadebe, AP)

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Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma on Monday thanked South Africans for taking a stand against xenophobia, after xenophobic violence has claimed several lives over the last few weeks.

At the same time, he acknowledged concerns by South Africans about those foreigners who are in the country illegally.

Hinting at tighter control, Zuma said, "We can't leave our borders open hoping that the angels will watch over the borders... We are preparing a formal report for the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) on the matter. Some of the issues raised by foreign nationals need to be discussed."

Speaking at a Freedom Day event at the Union Buildings, Zuma said those citizens who had provided information to the police deserved thanks, and also those who had marched against xenophobia.

"We are therefore called upon to find a solution to the problem of migration...imbizos have been held with community members," he said, adding that an inter-ministerial committee had been put in place to fight xenophobia.

He extended condolences to the families of those killed in the xenophobic violence in parts of Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal over the last few weeks, naming the three South Africans who also lost their lives.

They were 22-year-old Ayanda Dlamini, 14-year-old Thabo Mzobe, and 29-year-old Msawenkosi Dlamini.

No excuse

Touching on Emmanuel Sithole, a Mozambican man killed last Saturday in Alexandra, Johannesburg, the president said reports suggested that Sithole had used a fake name to avoid authorities.

He said Members of Parliament were going on recess this week and would attend to issues related to xenophobia. His mention of complaints received that foreign nationals had access to government services, was met by cheers from the assembled crowd.

"These are some of the attributes that lead to the attitude towards foreigners," the president said, but stressed there was no excuse or justification for xenophobia.

Not all foreigners were criminals or were in the country illegally, he said.

"Government has deployed the army in seven provinces to patrol border posts," he assured the nation.

‘Safer country’

The president told the crowd that foreign nationals had explained why they wanted to come to South Africa.

"All of them said South Africa was a safer country. They claimed to have been protected by the Constitution. Some said if you raise your voice in their countries, you disappear."

Zuma said the African Diaspora Forum would also write a report.

"We cannot shy away from discussing why they are here. There are murmurs that the incident has to be discussed in the AU," he said.

"Our nation building and healing requires involvement of all [of] the nation."

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  pretoria

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