Zuma cancels Indonesia trip to address xenophobic attacks

2015-04-18 14:32
President Jacob Zuma (GCIS)

President Jacob Zuma (GCIS)

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Watch Jacob Zuma's full anti-xenophobia speech in Parliament here

2015-04-16 17:14

Speaking in the National Assembly, President Jacob Zuma said government stands against xenophobia. Watch his full address above.WATCH

Pretoria - President Jacob Zuma has cancelled a trip to Indonesia to attend to the on-going attacks on foreign nationals in the country, the presidency said on Saturday.

"We reiterate our message that there can be no justification for the attacks on foreign nationals," Zuma said in a statement.

"These attacks go against everything we believe in. The majority of South Africans love peace and good relations with their brothers and sisters in the continent."

Zuma was due to leave for Indonesia on Saturday evening to attend the Africa-Asia summit. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa would attend the summit on his behalf.

Zuma would visit displaced foreigners in Chatsworth in Durban at on Saturday afternoon at 16:00.

He would hold meetings, along with his cabinet ministers, in the upcoming week to strengthen the existing support for peace and co-existence among South Africans.

He thanked South Africans and the media for coming out against the attacks. He also thanked the international community including the African Union and the United Nations for their support.

Six people died this week and thousands were displaced as hostility between some locals and foreigners escalated in Durban and parts of Johannesburg.

Earliest reports show that the first sparks were at the end of March, when the Daily News reported that crisis talks had started in the province on March 31 after 170 foreigners were displaced, sleeping on police station lawns and in their cars.

This seemed to be as a result of anger over an Umlazi business firing staff and replacing them with foreign nationals.

At the time, Major General Dumezweni Chiliza, the SAPS cluster commander for the area briefed people at a meeting in Isipingo, which included KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu. He has also repeatedly called for calm and arranged a peace march on Thursday to try and stop the violence.

Zwelithini’s comment

On March 20, Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini's comments at a moral regeneration event in Pongola started gaining traction as being one of the causes of hostilities.

According to a translation from Zulu, he wanted foreigners who caused problems, such as crime, to leave the country.

A ''deadline'' for April 1 for this is reported.

The Royal Household Trusts chairperson Judge Jerome Ngwenya, denies the link between xenophobia and the king's comments, saying as far as he knows the violence started at a shopping complex where one foreigner shot another dead.

He also denied the king wanted foreigners to be deported.

On April 1, President Jacob Zuma’s eldest son, Edward Zuma, told News24.com: "We need to be aware that as a country we are sitting on a ticking time bomb of them [foreigners] taking over the country.

"The reason why I am saying that is because some of the foreigners are working for private security companies where they have been employed for cheap labour. These companies are running away from complying with South African labour laws."

He said he fully agreed with Zwelithini’s sentiments that "foreigners needed to leave the country".

On Wednesday, President Jacob Zuma called for calm in one radio bulletin after the other, and on television.

He was criticised for not dealing with his son Edward's comments, or Zwelithini's remarks.

In Parliament he was lambasted by EFF leader Julius Malema over the xenophobia with Malema saying government policies, landlessness and poverty were the real problems, not xenophobia.

Read more on:    jacob zuma  |  pretoria  |  xenophobia

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