President Jacob Zuma apologised to Mozambicans yesterday for a recent outbreak of xenophobic violence in which at least seven people died and hundreds of migrants were forced to flee their homes.
Speaking at the start of a two-day state visit to Maputo, Zuma said the attacks — which included the murder of a Mozambican man captured by a Press photographer — “shocked us and disturbed us”.
Apologising on behalf of the “small minority of South Africans” involved in the violence, Zuma said: “The Mozambicans are our brothers, our sisters, that’s like a family problem really.”
Rampant unemployment and poverty are seen as contributing to the violence by South Africans, who accuse migrants from Mozambique and other neighbouring countries of stealing their jobs.
Since the end of apartheid 21 years ago, South Africa has attracted millions of migrants seeking a better life in the continent’s most advanced economy.
Zuma pledged to address “some of the underlying factors” to ensure that the attacks against foreigners did not erupt again, without elaborating.
While condemning the violence, South Africa has also cracked down in a series of raids in which 1 650 illegal immigrants have been arrested.
More than 400 Mozambicans were expelled last Friday and 427 others are slated to be deported soon.
Zuma is in Maputo at the invitation of Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi, with the visit set to focus on bilateral and regional co-operation.
Mozambique is South Africa’s top trading partner in Africa, with two-way trade worth R43,9bn last year.
Meanwhile, King Goodwill Zwelithini’s advisers have said they will investigate the “genuineness” and “fairness” of the complaints made against him before responding, said Judge Jerome Ngwenya yesterday.
The SA Human Rights Commission met Zwelithini’s advisers in Durban on Tuesday to discuss complaints made about a speech the king delivered during a moral regeneration event in Pongola in March.
Judge Jerome Ngwenya, who is leading the team of advisers, said: “We are happy with the manner in which the commission has handled the matter so far.
“What we are going to do on our side is look at the genuineness and the fairness of the complaints before responding because we have picked up that some complaints are derogatory and insulting to the king.
“We are wary of such things because some of the people who complained were not present when the statements were made, but they were quick to jump on the bandwagon after reading newspapers and hearing it on the radio.”
He said the meeting was the first official one with the commission.
“Until recently we had heard that there had been complaints about the king’s comments. This was the first official meeting with the commission where they presented the statements to us.
“We have agreed to respond to the statements, following that they can tell us if they need further evidence or input from us.”
Ngwenya said the process of formulating a response would include going through each complaint.
“After going through each statement we are going to formulate a summary response. We won’t be responding to each statement individually because some of the complaints are the same,” said Ngwenya. – AFP/News24.