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South Africa: Bishops Conference calls for renewed vigour in the face of xenophobia
15 July 2010

JRS supports call by the bishops for tolerance, Johannesburg, South Africa, (Peter Balleis SJ/ JRS)
Johannesburg, 9 July 2010 – In a public statement in response to rumours of xenophobic attacks following the end of the World Cup, the President of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Buti Tlhagale, urged the government, employers and citizens alike to listen with renewed vigour to voices expressing legitimate grievances and act for our common good.

Commending the professionalism of the police service during the World Cup, the bishops urged both communities and the authorities to put an end to impunity for those who commit violent acts, and expressed the hope that the positive experiences of so many visitors to South Africa in recent months continue to be replicated in local communities. In addition, they called on those tempted towards violence for whatever reason to find other means of expressing their grievances.

False assertions

Despite assertions that foreigners take South African jobs, the bishops continued, the evidence shows that non-South Africans are no more likely to be involved in criminal activities than their national counterparts. In addition, they are generally more likely to generate employment opportunities rather than take them away.

“In the past, violence against foreign communities in the name of protests against poor service delivery suggests that we must be vigilant and work harder to improve the lot of the poorest South African residents”, the statement read.

It is incumbent upon the governing authorities to manage the legal flows of people in and out of the country, and ensure that legally resident migrants be provided with proper documentation and the capacity to integrate into their new communities. In addition, the bishops added, it is equally important that the government, in line with international responsibilities, open its borders to those, who through no fault of their own, are fleeing persecution and economic meltdown.

For the full statement see

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