Looters make off with stolen goods from a store in Germiston. The KwaZulu-Natal church leaders group said they were horrified by the on-going attacks and killing of foreign nationals in South Africa. File photo: AP Photo/Themba Hadebe.

JOHANNESBURG - The KwaZulu-Natal church leaders group (KZNCLG) on Monday said they were horrified by the on-going attacks and killing of foreign nationals in South Africa. 

The chairman of the group, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, said: "We condemn all attacks, killings, hatred and discrimination suffered by our foreign brothers and sisters in South Africa". 

Napier said the group was grateful to the province's government and other political leaders for speaking out against those in communities who were responsible for the latest xenophobic outbreak.  

"We are most seriously concerned that some of these very leaders are responsible for this violence by their derogatory and inflammatory statements about migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and other vulnerable persons."

'What is of even greater concern is that messages criticising xenophobia are received with reluctance and even resistance by some of the local leaders," said Napier.

"Poverty and competition for scarce resources are some of the factors contributing to this violence. But violence is not a solution and blaming the weak and the marginalised is not a solution."

He said constructive and sustainable solutions must be sought through dialogue and working together to address challenges facing the communities. 

"We commit ourselves to lead the responsibility of conducting dialogues with all stakeholders so as to address the challenge facing us. The sacred scriptures of every major faith stress the duty and obligation to receive widows, orphans and strangers and make them welcome. Xenophobia is totally unacceptable to all religions," said Napier.

"We call for a major campaign to ensure that in every church, mosque, temple and synagogue, religious leaders speak out with clarity against xenophobic attitudes, statements and actions, and [instead] promote peace, love and ubuntu, which leads us to respect and recognition of foreigners as fellow humans, and as our brothers and sisters, and therefore members of the same family of God."

Napier said the group expressed its sincere condolences to the families and persons who had lost loved ones; those who had had their lives turned upside down and those who had lost their jobs or livelihoods. 

"We call on churches to mobilise relief for people who lost their livelihood and all their possessions. We ask that churches become places of refuge and healing for people damaged in this scourge of hatred. 

"We invite church communities to cooperate in providing spaces of dialogue between enemies to seek alternative ways of expressing anger and frustration, hope and aspirations," said Napier.

African News Agency (ANA)