Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africans are not a xenophobic nation and has called on angry citizens not to take the law into their own hands over perceived criminality.

He was answering a question in the National Assembly on Wednesday on the recent attacks on foreign nationals in Pretoria and Johannesburg.

“We can all agree that the events of the past two days are rather sad. These are incidents no one can gloat about,” he said.

“What is clear is that South Africa is not xenophobic. We don’t hate foreigners. In fact, we’ve opened our arms forever and a day to people of other countries.

“Where there has been criminal activity, we are saying that police must investigate that. That’s not saying that foreigners are criminals and that they get involved in all manner of criminal activity.”

The Deputy President said SA wants to protect the rights, property and well-being of foreigners in the country in the same way he wants South Africans in other countries to be protected.

He said the government has been preaching an anti-xenophobic message. Those foreign nationals who have been found guilty of criminal activity must be dealt with by the law.

South Africa was a home for all, he said.