South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday condemned acts of violence against foreigners from other African countries, saying “this brought the country back to the dark days of apartheid” and the past years of xenophobic attacks.
Ramaphos made the remarks in reflection of Elvis Nyathi, a 43-year-old Zimbabwean who was killed in Johannesburg’s Diepsloot township last week after he tried to run away from a mob approaching his home on a door-to-door campaign in search of undocumented foreigners.
Writing in his weekly newsletter, Ramaphosa condemned anti-foreigner sentiments and acts of vigilantism and assured South Africans that his government was dealing with the illegal migration issue in the country.
“We are working to ensure that syndicates perpetrating immigration fraud in collusion with corrupt officials are brought to book. This year alone, several people implicated in passport fraud, have been arrested,” he said.
Ramaphosa appealed to citizens not to repeat the xenophobic attacks which had rocked the country over the past decade.
“Attacking those we suspect of wrongdoing merely because they are a foreign national is not an act of patriotism. It is immoral, racist and criminal,” he said.
He added: “In the end, it will lead to xenophobia, whose consequences we have lived through in previous years. We do not want to go back there because, in the main, the people of South Africa are not xenophobic.”
He appealed to South Africans to avoid repeating the “brutality and dehumanisation of apartheid” when blacks were subjected to ill-treatment and treated as second class citizens because of the colour of their skin.
“Let us not become like the ones who oppressed us, no matter how legitimate your grievances are,” Ramaphosa said.