South Africa: Task team to address attacks on foreigners

PRETORIA, A task team has been setup by government and members of the Diplomatic Corps to look into the sprouting of acts of violence against foreign nationals.

The development was announced by International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) Minister Lindiwe Sisulu at the conclusion of a meeting with ambassadors from African countries in South Africa. The meeting was also attended by Police Minister Bheki Cele and Home Affairs Minister Siyabonga Cwele.

The meeting was a follow up to the first meeting that took place on Monday, where the Ministers together with the members of the Diplomatic Corps committed to working together to find a lasting solution to issues relating to incidents of attacks between South Africans and foreign nationals.

On Friday, Sisulu said the task team would comprise of officials from the DIRCO, Home Affairs, the police and representatives of the diplomatic community. They would put together a consolidated report on the issues raised during the meeting.

The emphasis right now is on the sporadic attacks � their extent, source and how much it costs the taxpayer. In our next session we are hoping to deal with the socio-economic problems that give rise to some of the sporadic attacks, she said.

The Minister emphasised government's position that foreign nationals who entered the country legally were welcome and that they will be secured.

We are grateful for the kind of interaction we had with the diplomatic corps

We wanted to engage with them on how we would work together to deal with the sporadic attacks on foreign nationals and to find a common way in which we can deal both educating foreign nationals around issues our people might feel sensitive about.

We had brought information at our disposal to assist diplomatic services to understand the problems we are dealing with and how were addressing them, she said.

Should there be a need for any ambassador to meet with any of the ministers, Sisulu said, this would be made possible to deal with the core problems being experienced.

Cele said the meeting had brought a better understanding of issues experienced by South African authorities.

We accept that we do have challenges [and] that we together need to work to find solutions, including the agreement that bi-laterals would be arranged. Several countries are already are calling for them, he said.

He was happy to say there will be a better understanding and better communication going forward to make sure that issues are handled better.

The debate around criminality/xenophobia will continue because we are beginning to understand that these sporadic attacks are usually a reaction to some kind of activity on the ground � that was explained, he said.

DRC Ambassador and Dean of Diplomatic Corps, Bene M'poko, said the ambassadors appreciated the frankness of the meeting, saying it was important for the diplomatic community to get facts so that matters of concern are attended to and resolved.

Source: NAM News Network