Several officials and organisations have come out against the anti-foreigner sentiments that have gripped Gauteng.
Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba has also expressed concern about reports of xenophobic attacks and planned protests which aim to target foreign nationals residing within communities across Gauteng.
He was referring to recent incidents in Rosettenville and Pretoria West, and threats of violence in Yeoville by locals objecting to illegal churches springing up.
“I would like to state outright that I condemn xenophobia, and my administration will do everything in its power to prevent any outburst of xenophobic violence in our city. There is no place for xenophobia in the City of Joburg,” he said. “This is a city built by, and made up of, migrants from all over the world.
“We are the pride of our country and continent and can’t allow foreign nationals to be scapegoated for the failures of previous administrations to fulfil their promises.
“There are many people who, out of desperation due to political, social and economic instability in their countries, are seeking a better life in South Africa,” he noted.
Mashaba said the national government needed to clean up its act and ensure that there was quick and efficient processing of asylum seekers and refugees.
That, he said, would protect those who wish to legitimately enter the country from criminal elements, including slum lords and drug traffickers, who abused their desperation and were able to evade the law.
“I welcome foreign nationals into our city and country. Foreign nationals buy goods in our country, create businesses and stimulate economic growth. This is key to our vision of a prosperous and inclusive city. I call on all residents living in our city, no matter where you are from, to respect the laws,” he said.
Mashaba admitted that some communities felt frustrated and burdened by the reality of not having jobs.
“While I sympathise with the concerns of communities, we cannot condone partaking in xenophobic action that would endanger the safety of residents.
“To do so would be to open the door to attacks such as those seen in 2008 in which dozens of foreign nationals were senselessly killed,” he said.
Mashaba said his administration was doing everything in its power to turn the tide on crime in the city and had already made “solid inroads” through increased police visibility and intelligence-led policing, and through the efforts of the K9 Narcotics Unit, which was launched last year.
“In my recent engagements with community members in Rosettenville I emphasised the need for residents not to take the law into their own hands and rather allow law enforcement to deal with matters of illegality and crime,” he said.