'Attacks on foreign nationals were criminally motivated, not xenophobic'
Durban - Malawian nationals who were forced from their homes - some robbed and beaten - in the Burnwood informal settlement in Durban this week would be reintegrated back into their communities and be welcomed by the local community, the eThekwini Municipality said on Friday.
The municipality and the Malawi high commission were "working tirelessly" to integrated the foreign nationals, said the city via a press statement.
eThekwini officials and acting high commissioner to Malawi, Gloria Bamusi, had agreed that the attacks weren't xenophobic but "criminally motivated" as "their belongings were stolen by the angry mob", said the statement.
Gumede issued a warning to leaders of all political parties to desist from making populist statements that inflamed xenophobia or any other form of discrimination.
“No African is a foreigner in Africa and as the municipality, we are committed to work together with organisations representing immigrants and civil society formations to deal with issues that cause tension between and among our people," she said.
The municipality's research had revealed that most African immigrants were highly skilled artisans "and we are looking at partnering with them in creating skills transfer and mentorship programmes that will target the youth,” she said.
Gumede said that during meetings held at the informal settlement, it emerged that "the majority" of locals were "ready to welcome back the Malawian nationals".
“It was also agreed during these meetings that leaders of foreign nationals should form part of community development forums in the area and the displaced foreign nationals should go back to their homes within the next 48-hours. However, a follow-up meeting will be held soon between the municipality, the Malawian high commission and community of Burnwood to welcome back the Malawian nationals,” said Gumede.
Bamusi appealed to law enforcement agencies to respond rapidly "whenever such instances occur".
"We also call for the perpetrators to be brought to book. We will work with the municipality to integrate our people back to the communities and make necessary arrangements for those who want to go back home to Malawi,” said Bamusi.
African News Agency (ANA)