South Africa’s leader apologizes for xenophobic attacks


South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday apologized to the Nigerian government two weeks after deadly xenophobic attacks on immigrants in Johannesburg and Pretoria, according to media reports.

Ramaphosa tendered his apology to his Nigerian counterpart, Muhammadu Buhari, through Jeff Radebe, Ramaphosa’s special envoy dispatched to Nigeria, the Thisdaylive news website reported.

Following his meeting with Buhari, Radebe told reporters that some 50 perpetrators of the attacks — mostly on Nigerians — had been apprehended so far, according to the website.

This followed remarks Ramaphosa delivered earlier in the day in which he said that immigrants must not be made “scapegoats” for the current slow pace of the country’s economy, local media reported.

“Immigrants must not be turned into scapegoats, nor must we take our legitimate frustrations on the slow pace of economic and social reform out on immigrants who have come to our country,” Ramaphosa was quoted by the IOL news website as saying while addressing the 14th National Congress of the Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union at the Durban International Convention Centre.

“This nation knows all too well what intolerance and discrimination brings, and we will not inflict such trauma on anyone else,” he added.

“The people of Zimbabwe, in unison, expressed their unhappiness against South Africans, and they saw me as representing all of us in South Africa. The whole stadium booed me. It was only after I said I regret what happened in this country that they then responded positively,” he noted in reference to an incident that took place while he was delivering a speech during late Zimbabwean Prime Minister Robert Mugabe’s funeral service Saturday in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare.

“I have apologized on your behalf, and I hope it sinks into our consciousness,” Ramaphosa continued, according to the IOL website.

He added that South Africa’s image had been “negatively affected” in the eyes of the international community, stressing that his country would have to work hard to reverse perceptions, according to the same source.
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