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South Africa’s president pleads for prayers amid violent xenophobic attacks

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa urged his compatriots to desist from fuelling tensions in the wake of xenophobic violence that has gripped Africa’s most industrialised country in the past five days.

Ramaphosa said this on Thursday, 5 September 2019, when he addressed the nation through a national TV and radio broadcast on matters of public and gender-based violence that have gripped the country for nearly a week now.

In his evening address to the crisis-hit nation, he said: “I am calling upon each one of us to desist from fuelling a climate of fear and confusion.” He appealed to all religious leaders and communities to lead the country in prayer and contemplation from Friday, 6 September until Sunday, 8 September 2019.

Touching on the xenophobic violence, the president said the country has been deeply traumatised by acts of violence and criminality directed against both foreign nationals and South African citizens.

“We know that at least ten people have been killed in this violence, two of whom were foreign nationals. No amount of anger, frustration, and grievance can justify such acts of destruction and criminality.

“There can be no excuse for the attacks on the homes and businesses of foreign nationals, just as there can be no excuse for xenophobia or any other form of intolerance,” the president said.

Ramaphosa stressed that there was no justification for the looting and destruction of businesses owned by fellow Africans.

“The people from other countries on our continent stood with us in our struggle against apartheid. We worked together to destroy apartheid and overcome the divisions it created, where we feared each other and our differences were exploited,” he said.


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