Following a series of xenophobic attacks that have shaken the country, South African President Jacob Zuma was heckled by an angry crowd when he visited a refugee camp in Durban. They said his visit was a late response to a worsening crisis over anti-immigration.
Despite Zuma’s attempts to pacify the crowd, saying South Africa was not trying to send foreign nationals away from the country, the furious gathering, mainly consisting of foreigners, jeered him.
“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 said in a statement as he cancelled a visit to Indonesia to address the situation.
Later, in a televised address, Zuma assured: “We are certainly going to stop the violence. Those who want to go home, when the violence stops you are welcome to return.”
“It is not every South African who says ‘go away’, not at all. It is a very small number who say so. We don’t want the countries in the region where the citizens are going to look at each other in a hostile manner. We want to live as sisters and brothers.”
So far, at least six people have been killed in anti-immigration violence in South Africa, which is threatening to snowball into a wider conflict. As many as 150 people have been arrested for violent offenses.
Many South Africans blame immigrants for increased competition in the country’s job market, amid rising unemployment, which currently stands at 24 percent.
Meanwhile, reprisal attacks against South Africans in other nations on the continent have also taken place. People hurled stones at South African vehicles in Mozambique and some South African-run firms in Nigeria have been asked to shut down.
South African embassies have also witnessed protests several countries.