South Africa’s Parliament on Tuesday called for an end to xenophobia-motivated attacks as more and more foreigners in the country came under attack over the past few days.
“It is critical that law enforcement work hard to find the culprits and act accordingly to stop this thuggish behavior,” said Mandla Rayi, chairperson of Parliament’s Select Committee on Trade and Industry, Economic Development, Small Business Development, Tourism, Employment and Labour.
Parliament made the appeal as many foreign truck drivers had been attacked and their trucks had been burned by locals in parts of the country, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal Province. In a wider context, a number of foreign-owned shops had been looted in Johannesburg and Pretoria, which have been gripped by chaos over the past few days.
Xenophobic attacks have broken out in South Africa following a planned strike by truck drivers in the country protesting the presence of foreign nationals in the trucking business.
“This is not only a crime against truck drivers, but also against the economy, at a time when faster and rapid growth is required,” Rayi said.
The impact of such attacks on the economy, especially on small and medium enterprise, is extensive, according to Rayi. Attacks motivated by xenophobia will not be tolerated, and if xenophobia is a motivating factor, then the perpetrators should be exposed, said Rayi.
A solution must be found to address the attacks on truck drivers, he said.
“The focus should now be on growing the economy through promoting regional and continental trade,” he added.
Small and medium enterprises should be at the centre of such efforts, through trading between regions, provinces and neighbouring countries, Rayi said.
Also on Tuesday, the African Union (AU) condemned the current spate of xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
“The AU calls for immediate steps to be taken to protect the lives of people and their property, ensure that all perpetrators are brought to account for their acts, and that justice be done to those who suffered economic and other losses,” the AU said in a statement.
South Africa has seen sporadic incidents of xenophobia-related attacks since 2015 when several foreigners were killed in widespread violence. –Xinhua