South African President Apologises over Xenophobic Attacks

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Cyril Ramaphosa

*Says xenophobia is against spirit of African unity

By Chuks Okocha in Abuja

Two weeks after the violent eruption of xenophobic attacks on other nationals, particularly Nigerians and Zimbabweans, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa Saturday apologised for the violent attacks.

The South African President used the occasion of the burial ceremony of the late Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, to tender the apology for the xenophobic attacks.

Before he tendered his country’s apology, the crowd at the stadium booed him and did not allow him to speak, with the Master of Ceremony pleading that Ramaphosa should be allowed to speak.

According to the report monitored on the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), Ramaphosa, said, “I like to say to the people of Zimbabwe that in the last two weeks, we as South Africans have been going through challenging period. We have had acts of violence erupting in some parts of our country and some of which was directed at our brothers in other African countries. This has led to the deaths of some people. Some of whom are nationals of other countries and majority are from South Africa. I stand before you as a fellow African to express my regrets and to apologise for what has happened in our country.

“What has happened in South Africa goes against the principles of the unity of the African people that President Mugabe, Nelson Mandela, Oliver Thambo and leaders of our continent stood for. I stand before you, fellow Zimbabweans, fellow Africans to say that we are working very hard to encourage all our people in South Africa to embrace people from all other African countries.

“Your Excellencies, I will like to thank you for the support that you have offered us during this difficult time. I would like to say this now that South Africans are not xenophobic and are not against nationals from other African countries.

“We welcome people from other African countries and we are going to work very hard that will encourage and promote social cohesion of all the people of South Africa working side by side with people from other part of our continent. This we shall do, because we want to embrace the spirit of unity that President Mugabe worked for throughout his life. “

He later paid tribute to the late Zimbabwean President, describing him as a founding father of modern day Zimbabwe.