Last updated: 10:00 AM ET, Sat April 18 2015

South Africa Reels from Wave of Xenophobic Violence

Destination & Tourism | David Cogswell | April 18, 2015

South Africa Reels from Wave of Xenophobic Violence

PHOTO: Immigrants from other African countries have created communities in some South African cities, and some are now targets of the anger engendered by economic frustrations of South African nationals. (Photo by David Cogswell)

Brand South Africa, a government-funded agency formed in 2002 to work toward the creation of a positive brand image for South Africa, issued a statement strongly condemning a recent wave of violence against immigrants in South Africa.

“We assure all our partners in the continent that South Africa stands firmly against all intolerances such as racism, xenophobia, homophobia and sexism,” said the statement. “As such security forces are hard at work around the clock to protect vulnerable communities in the country.”

TV images of machete-wielding attackers on foreign-owned shops in Johannesburg and Durban were shocking in the country founded 20 years ago on the foundation of Nelson Mandela’s call for peace, cooperation, tolerance and the celebration of diversity.

Brand South Africa moved quickly to reassure the world that the country had not deviated from its original principles.

“The country remains true to its founding ethos that any problems or issues of concern by South African citizens must be resolved peacefully and through dialogue.

“Brand South Africa assures our partners that South Africans are generally not xenophobic; this is attested to by the high number of foreign nationals who have been successfully integrated into communities all over our country, in towns, cities and villages.”

South Africa has become home to large communities of immigrants from other parts of Africa. But the high levels of unemployment and economic distress have created an environment that is ripe for jealousy and dissension.

President Jacob Zuma addressed the country via TV, calling the attacks “shocking and unacceptable.

“No amount of frustration or anger can ever justify the attacks on foreign nationals and the looting of their shops. We condemn the violence in the strongest possible terms - the attacks violate all the values that South Africa embodies.”

Brand South Africa said that all South African stakeholders are trying to find effective was to address the socio-economic issues that are at the root of the problem and ended on a call for all Africans to address their common humanity.

“Brand South Africa expresses its sincere sympathies to the regrettable loss of lives and injuries suffered during this unfortunate occurrence.

“We are one Africa, bound by many areas of commonalities and our spirit of UBUNTU (humanity - I am because you are) will prevail even under the trying circumstances.”

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