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By Fikile Mbalula | Jul 14, 2010 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

WE HAVE just solidified our presence within the global village by successfully hosting the 2010 Fifa World Cup as a continent.

WE HAVE just solidified our presence within the global village by successfully hosting the 2010 Fifa World Cup as a continent.

The unity displayed by all Africans in their large numbers blowing vuvuzelas from the roof tops in celebration of Africa's success is immeasurable, and with this a big thank you.

Our march towards a democratic state that characterises the latter- day South Africa is premised on our struggles that saw the international community rally behind our cause.

We were exiled from our own land and had to seek refuge in foreign lands. Our affinity with the rest of the African continent and the broader democratic world is unmistakable and cannot be questioned.

The conceptualisation of the democratic South Africa was premised on the appreciation that South Africa is an integral part of the broader African community and the international family of nations.

South Africa's founding values and principles are underpinned by a human rights culture and principle of mutual coexistence.

The role that we continue to play in building a better Africa and a better world, Darfur, Zimbabwe to the Sahrawi Republic, from Northern Ireland to the Middle East is one steeped in the fundamental human rights values that constitute the cornerstone of our democracy.

Within the young democracy we live in today we managed to showcase to the world how beautiful the country is through hosting events such as the soccer World Cup, rugby World Cup, the cricket World Cup, World Summit on Sustainable Development, among others.

During the (soccer) World Cup, there was a sharp increase in anti-foreigner sentiment spreading from metropolitan cities and surrounding townships to smaller towns and rural areas across SA.

This has led to fears about xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals.

According to some of the findings by the government, the locus of these tensions is mainly driven by criminal elements in areas where there are high levels of poverty and unemployment.

There is also tension between businesses owned by locals and foreign nationals, which spawned an ugly element of criminal involvement, exploitation and manipulation of the situation.

The situation with its tensions between the businesses by foreigners and locals has taken a shape of criminality. As it stands, the security agencies have been in constant communications with various people within communities who may identify the kingpins in this regard.

We are fully aware that in most cases these acts of criminality are led by criminals and aided by and abetted by locals, particularly the young people - who enjoy the looting and pillaging of foreigners' businesses.

The criminals have understandably been using the xeno-attacks for armed robberies.

Whatever the case may be, we are prepared for all these, through deployment of our security agencies. We have through the Inter-Ministerial Committee to ensure continued partnership with the organs of civil society in proactively curbing and averting these threats, as outlined in a multi-faceted and integrated plan:

l Proactive facilitation of a societal dialogue.

l Extension of the 2010 Fifa World Cup National Joint Committee, to have a quicker investigation, tighter sentencing and law enforcement acting swiftly, speedily and decisively against anyone found to incite violent acts against foreign nationals.

l Strict monitoring of proliferation of businesses owned by foreign nationals and lack of regulation thereof.

l Review and derive lessons from the May/June 2008 incidents.

l Reinforce civic education in society and within the law enforcement agencies.

l Development of a government communications strategy, which will aggressively counter and mitigate the risk posed by the unbalanced media reports which instil fear about possible attacks.

These are just some of the ways and means to heighten our proactiveness aggressively to provide a safer South Africa.

Central to this we need a strong partnership with the society, and we must also stress that the role of the community policing forums is critical in ensuring the above mentioned points are successful.

We have placed our security forces on high alert to deal with any element within our communities that seek to perpetuate this heinous crime of xenophobia, which manifests itself in violence and gross intolerance.

Our promise to throw the book at those who seek to champion these acts of criminality is no idle threat and our security forces remain ready to use every tool at their disposal within the ambit of the law to protect the lives and properties of every citizen and foreign national living in South Africa.

South Africans should learn to understand the role played by African countries in giving us refuge during the time of apartheid. The lessons we should teach ourselves is during the unifying actions of sports we managed to sing the same song.

We cannot celebrate Maria Mutola, Nwanku Kanu, Abedi Pele, Emperor Haile Selassie, Patrice Lumumba, Julius Nyerere, yet hate their fellow countrymen and women, our fellow African brothers and sisters.

South Africa will never be in the hands of the criminals, we will not allow these dirty elements within our midst to dictate to us on how we should live.

We are watching and arrests will be made soon. This has been our commitment before the Fifa World Cup and we still stand by that.

lThe writer is Deputy Minister of Police


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