Newly elected chancellor of the University of South Africa (Unisa), Thabo Mbeki, has expressed concern over violent attacks targeted at African migrants in the country.
The former president, who was inaugurated on Monday, said he was worried about reports he had read of the anti-immigration march which took place in the country’s capital city last week.
“Those who organise and participate in these attacks, which must stop, must know there is absolutely nothing revolutionary, progressive or patriotic, acceptable or of service to the people in what are in fact criminal activities,” said Mbeki.
He said South Africans should never forget the role other African countries played in the country’s struggle for liberation.
Foreign-owned shops looted
Last week, the Tshwane city centre was brought to a standstill as a group from Mamelodi marched to the Department of Home Affairs, while another group from Attridgeville also held demonstrations which left a trail of destruction.
Some protesters, who were carrying traditional weapons, looted foreign-owned shops. Police had to intervene in order to prevent clashes between the group and foreign nationals.
He also said that police had an obligation to act on complaints brought to them by communities.
“When our communities discover or suspect criminal activities in their areas, regardless of the nationality of the alleged criminal or criminals, they must report this to the police service,” said Mbeki.
The former statesman said South Africans should not make the mistake of committing the offence of viewing or characterising African migrants in the country as criminals.
“We cannot now behave in a manner that treats other fellow Africans who are now residents in the country as enemies or unwelcomed guests,” he said.