Speech: Ramaphosa talks tough on attacks on foreign nationals

Fellow South Africans,

Over the past few days, our country has been deeply traumatised by acts of violence and criminality directed against foreign nationals and our own citizens.

As I speak to you, the debris of several days of violence and looting continues to litter many of the streets of our country.

People have lost their lives and many have been injured.

Families have been traumatised. Livelihoods have been destroyed.

We know that at least 10 people have been killed in this violence, two of whom were a foreign nationals.

No amount of anger and frustration and grievance can justify such acts of destruction and criminality.

There can be no excuse for the attacks on the homes and businesses of foreign nationals, just as there can be no excuse for xenophobia or any other form of intolerance.

Equally, there is no justification for the looting and destruction of businesses owned by South Africans.

The people from other countries on our continent stood with us in our struggle against apartheid.

We worked together to destroy apartheid and overcome the divisions it created, where we feared each other and our differences were exploited.

Thanks to the people of Africa, we have now achieved democracy and must use this platform to live together in harmony.

We value our relations with other African countries and need to work to strengthen political, social and trade ties if we are to develop our economy and those of our neighbours.

Where communities have genuine grievances these must be addressed through engagement and dialogue.

But where people act with criminal intent, irrespective of their nationality, we will not hesitate to act to uphold the law and ensure order and stability.

We commend our law enforcement and security agencies who have moved swiftly to restore stability in Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane and parts of KwaZulu-Natal.

The violence has largely subsided and police have increased reinforcements and visibility in priority areas to ensure the safety of all within South African borders.

The criminal justice system is ready to deal with perpetrators of violence, looting and lawlessness.

Since Sunday, 423 people have been arrested for violence-related offences in Gauteng and 21 suspects have been arrested in relation to truck violence in KwaZulu-Natal.

I am calling upon each one of us to desist from fueling a climate of fear and confusion.

We must act responsibly and stop disseminating fake videos, photographs and messages, especially on social media, with an intention of negatively portraying our country and its people.

This misinformation is also being disseminated in neighbouring countries and throughout the world, causing panic and putting lives in danger.

Let us not be misled.

Let us not be provoked by those who want to sow mistrust and fuel conflict.

This is a time for calm.

It is a time for all of us who live in this country to confront our challenges directly and earnestly, not through violence, but through dialogue.

We call on all religious leaders and communities to lead the country in prayer and contemplation this Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

In all churches, mosques, synagogues and temples, let us humble ourselves and bring healing to our nation.

As a nation, we have endured moments of uncertainty before.

As a nation, we have overcome conflict and achieved peace.

Now, as a nation, let us once again work together to end the violence that has engulfed our streets, and damaged our economy and confidence in our country.

Let us once again, as a nation, work together to end the violence against the women and children of our country.

Let us build the South Africa we want, and which all our people so richly deserve.

I thank you.

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