MINISTER of International Relations and Co-operation Lindiwe Sisulu. File photo: Jacoline Schoonees/DIRCO News
While it is believed that the recurring xenophobic violence in the country since 2008 results from economic hardships and competition for scarce resources like jobs and business opportunities, the government says it has yet to figure out what exactly causes it.

International Relations and Co-operation Minister Lindiwe Sisulu told a Dr Phyllis Naidoo memorial in Durban on Friday that the government had roped in non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to help them to figure out the causes and find solutions.

Naidoo, who passed away in 2013, was a freedom fighter who fought the apartheid regime first as a Natal Indian Congress member and later the SACP.

Sisulu told the gathering that when the recent violence erupted against Malawians in Durban, the department met with African countries diplomats.

“Since 2008, we have not been able to get to the bottom of what is happening in South Africa and to stop this. We have had engagements with a wide range of NGOs at presidential level trying to see how we can get out of this,” Sisulu said, stressing that the recent attacks on Malawians were criminal, not xenophobic.

Among the evidence shared with the diplomats, she said, was crime statistics from the police which provided criminal activity data which is broken down according to the nationalities of the people who committed them and the number of nationalities they deport and illegally come back to SA immediately after their deportation.

“We called the African diplomats to our headquarters and discussed with them a common problem, how do we get out of this problem so that it does not recur and it is the first time that we actually used this resource.

“Ambassadors are here to make sure that we have good relations with their countries and if we bring them in it also enables them to interact with their own citizens who are in our country to make sure that, one, they obey the rules and the laws and they are here legally and they understand the culture of South Africans because South Africans feel that the presence of foreigners in the pushes them out of the economic sphere,” Sisulu said.

Sisulu was also questioned about the long-standing dispute between Israel and Palestine and she told the gathering that they have begun a process to downgrade the South African embassy in Israel and the first move was not to send a new ambassador to the country after the term of the current one expired.

Sunday Independent