Standard Bank has offered its "deepest sympathy to all who have suffered and lost" lives and property in xenophobic attacks in different parts of SA. Picture: Reuters/Mike Hutchings

JOHANNESBURG - Standard Bank in South Africa on Wednesday offered its "deepest sympathy to all who have suffered and lost" lives and property in xenophobic attacks in different parts of the country.

"Over the last few days, South Africa has been deeply saddened by a wave of violence against our fellow Africans," said Sim Tshabalala, Standard Bank Group CEO.

"We stand ashamed before our African brothers and sisters and before the world. On behalf of all of us at the Standard Bank Group, I offer our deepest sympathy to all who have suffered and lost."

South Africa has been experiencing a wave of violence that includes burning and looting of shops thought to be owned by foreign nationals. Foreign registered laden haulage trucks have also been set alight.

The sporadic attacks began on Sunday night in Jeppe, Johannesburg, and were soon replicated in other parts of Gauteng. Shops in down town Johannesburg, Pretoria and Tembisa were looted. And some buildings were set on fire.

Police have arrest nearly 200 suspects, but the looting continues.

Protesters say they won't stop until foreign nationals leave South Africa so that they can get jobs. The unemployment rate in South Africa has risen to 29 percent in recent times. 

However, Tshabalala said: "We stand in solidarity with our fellow Africans. We stand in solidarity with the great majority of South Africans who live by the values of our Constitution, which commands us to defend the rights and dignity of everyone who lives here.

"Like many other South African companies, our businesses throughout Africa are essential to our success and enable us to tackle unemployment, inequality and economic exclusion. When South Africans attack their fellow Africans, we are hurting ourselves.

"We call on all South Africans to support the authorities and civil society in their efforts to restore law and order and to ensure that all perpetrators answer for their actions in a court of law.

"I am very sad that this is the second time during my tenure as Group Chief Executive that I have had to write to the Group about xenophobic violence in South Africa. I hope and pray that I will not have to do so again."

Tshabalala said the underlying causes of most violence were poverty, inequality and unemployment.

"Let us therefore recommit ourselves to doing all we can to promote social solidarity, sustainable economic growth, and human development in South Africa and throughout this great continent that is our home. Africa is our home, we drive her growth."

- African News Agency