President Jacob Zuma says the world is being fed an incorrect perception that all South Africans are xenophobic.
Speaking to journalists outside Rietgat Police Station following a crime intervention visit to Soshanguve near Pretoria‚ Zuma said he did not feel that current violence‚ looting and clashes between police and protesters in Jeppestown was as a result of xenophobia.
“Yes it is a concern but crime depends on the circumstances‚” he said.
“There was a time in Johannesburg when attacks were between hostel dwellers and those who were staying in the townships. You couldn’t say there was xenophobia‚ you couldn’t say you were xenophobic‚” he said.
Zuma said he did not agree with the narrative that South Africans are xenophobic.
“We have been staying here with foreigners for centuries. Some have come here and settled here. There are not always attacks‚” he said.
“If you observe‚ you will realise that we do not have refugee camps in SA. Foreigners stay with us‚ they are not separated or segregated.”
He said that if South Africa was “anti-foreigners”‚ they would be protected in camps.
“We stay with them‚ they open businesses‚ our people buy from them – until there is an incident that make the attacks look like they are xenophobic.”
He said the xenophobia narrative was only attached to Africans.
“When other people demonstrate they are not welcoming to foreigners‚ it is not said they are xenophobic. As you know there is an ongoing problem in Europe‚ wherein the refugees that are coming in‚ countries are saying they don’t want them‚ but no one is saying they are xenophobic.
“It is just like when there is something wrong with Africans‚ it’s corruption. If it’s done not by us (sic)‚ it’s collusion‚ but it’s exactly the same thing.”
Zuma said more foreigners lived in South Africa that many other countries‚ and that when certain incidents under certain circumstances are reported‚ it is immediately misconstrued as xenophobia.
“We should not highlight that and give a wrong impression than South Africans are xenophobic‚” Zuma said.