A high level state delegation visited displaced foreign nationals in Durban on Saturday after a concerned phone call from African Union chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.
The delegation comprising of KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu, State Security Minister David Mahlobo, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko and national police commissioner Riah Phiyega, visited a camp in Isipingo where displaced people have been living under police guard.
Addressing the small Mozambican, Congolese and Malawian community, Mchunu said the government has been working tirelessly to prevent further attacks on foreign nationals.
“We received a call from AU chair Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma while she was in London wanting to know about the situation. We are also in communication with various embassies and consulates about the situation,” said Mchunu.
He apologised on behalf of the South African government.
“Our main concern is the violence and you being attacked in your areas. Some of you have lost your lives and some people’s shops have been looted. We are gravely concerned because we regard you as part of us.
“Some of us were in your countries during the struggle, some of you even fought with us against apartheid. We were accommodated and no one chased us away,” said Mchunu.
He said the government was aware that some foreign nationals were in the country illegally.
“We are aware that some of you have gotten involved in some illegal activities but the bottom line is that we don’t want people to hurt you or to burn you. We apologise for whatever and whoever that has harmed you.”
Mchunu sympathised with the children.
“We want you to go back into your communities to do whatever you were doing, whether it was contributing to the economy or running your shops. We want the little ones to go back to school,” he said.
Mahlobo said President Jacob Zuma has condemned the attacks on foreigners.
“Whatever our people [South Africans] are aggrieved with, they are not allowed to take the law into their own hands and they have no right to threaten you and your families,” said Mahlobo.
Phiyega said she didn’t think the situation had reached crisis level yet.
“We have deployed enough manpower to ensure their safety and the police are doing everything they can to prevent more attacks,” said Phiyega.
Willy Chikuru of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the vice leader of the camp, thanked the delegation for paying them a visit. “I am however concerned about our safety,” he said.
‘Disappointed with SA government’
“We are very disappointed with the South African government. We never thought we would be attacked and killed in this country. Some of our people are being killed in front of the police and they are not doing anything about it.
“When we report incidences we get arrested. Even when our shops are looted, they just stand there. Now you are telling us that you are going to integrate us back into those communities,” said Chikuru.
“The king told us to go back home, look at what is happening now,” said Chikuru