Johannesburg - South Africans are due to mark freedom day amid violence that wrongly portrayed the nation as xenophobic, the African National Congress said in a statement on Sunday.
“This freedom day takes place during a difficult time when our nation is reeling from the violent actions of a minority that resulted in the people of our country being wrongfully labelled as xenophobic and hostile and intolerant of our brothers and citizens from the rest of the African continent,” the party said ahead of freedom day celebrations on Monday.
“We mark this freedom day therefore, deeply aggrieved by these acts of violence and in mourning for the lives of the seven people (3 South Africans and 4 non-South Africans) that have been lost during this period.”
The ruling party was encouraged by calls for unity and peace since the violence erupted, but insisted the solution lay in addressing both the grievances of foreigners and South Africans.
“We must use these tragic events as important lessons as we continue to build a South Africa that protects the rights of all those who live in it and as we balance the grievances of the South African population with the plight of immigrants from the continent and beyond,” the party said.
The ruling party would encourage government to act speedily with interventions to help curb the attacks.
These included reforms on immigration, supporting small businesses and introducing a national minimum wage.
“Incidences such as the use of scab labour and the pitting of workers against one another as happened in Durban and which reportedly sparked the so-called xenophobic attacks in that area last week must be must strongly condemned,” it said.