Minister International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu Picture: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS

Pretoria - International Relations and Cooperation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has called for an urgent meeting with African ambassadors in Pretoria to discuss the current spate of violence targeting foreign nationals and their properties.

"The minister has expressed serious concern about the situation, and called on law-enforcement officers to deal with criminals and those damaging properties with the full might of the law," international relations department spokesperson Ndivhuwo Mabaya said on Saturday.

The South African government acknowledged the significant contribution and sacrifices made by the African continent for South Africans to be free and be liberated from the apartheid government.

Sisulu added that South African companies and South Africans were involved in different businesses across the continent without hindrance.

"South African companies and our citizens are welcomed and loved across the continent. Here at home we should do the same, we must embrace our neighbours and fellow South Africans” said Sisulu.

She said in different international forums, including the United Nations (UN), the African Union (AU), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African continent and other countries in the world looked up to South Africa for leadership.

“South Africa has been supported by all African countries and many countries in the world to have a non-permanent seat in the UNSC [UN Security Council]; it is currently the vice chairperson of the AU and the chair of AU in 2020. These responsibilities require that we must welcome and lead in building bridges between nations, particularly in SADC and the continent," said Sisulu.

“All of us must stand up and send a strong message that violence, all criminal activities and looting of properties of foreign nationals will not be tolerated, and the police and other law-enforcement agencies must act without fear or favour."

Without revealing details of the meeting, the department said "the meeting, which will happen as soon as possible, will focus on how ambassadors and government can work with communities and all stakeholders to foster integration in communities".

On Thursday, The South African government said it was concerned about the reported attacks on foreign nationals in KwaZulu-Natal, and 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. 

Several messages were doing the rounds in South Africa, warning of protests against the employment of foreign nationals in the country.

African News Agency/ANA