Loveness James, 22, with her friend Marriam Mbambichi, 25. Both are from Malawi, and along with other foreigners camped at the Sydenham police station after they were forced to flee. Picture: Zanele Zulu/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - The SA government on Thursday said it was concerned about the reported attacks on foreign nationals in Kwazulu-Natal and it urged law enforcement agencies to ensure that perpetrators of these violent acts were brought to book.

Earlier this week more than 150 foreigners living in an informal settlement in Clare Estate in Durban had to flee the area after they were attacked by a group of men. At the weekend messages were doing the rounds warning of protests against the employment of foreign nationals. 

"South Africans are generally peace-loving and friendly people and most of these attacks are nothing less of criminality. (The) government is receptive to people’s needs and urges all citizens to use relevant platforms to express their concerns and frustrations, including talking to elected officials in their communities," said a statement issued by the Government Communications and Information Systems. 

"South Africa is internationally renowned for using dialogue to solve differences and problems peacefully. As a peace-loving and law-abiding nation, we must use this noble approach to deal with our problems instead of using violence.

"South Africa is a constitutional democracy governed by laws and as such we expect everyone working and living in the country to be doing so legally and obey South Africa’s laws in their totality."

The statement came in the wake of reports that foreign nationals were attacked in Durban. The attacks started on Tuesday night after local residents raided their homes and forced them out into the streets, where some were beaten and stabbed.

The statement added: "Citizens from across the African continent supported our struggle for freedom and liberation and made immense sacrifices to provide safety and refuge to our people in exile, including our leaders. 

"South Africa has a high number of foreign nationals who are integrated into communities across the country and government calls on all South Africans and foreign nationals to live in harmony.

"(The) government remains committed to building a society based on democratic values of social justice, human dignity, equality, non-racialism, non-sexism and the advancement of human rights. 

"(The) government calls on all stakeholders including community leaders to stop and discourage attacks on foreign nationals." 

"We appeal to communities to give state agencies and relevant authorities the time and opportunity to deal with any concerns they may have as violence will not solve any issue."

African News Agency (ANA)