The government must play an active role in teaching citizens about coexisting with foreign communities in SA to combat xenophobia.
The proposal emerged at a community dialogue on xenophobia hosted by religious leaders in Umlazi, Durban, on Friday.
The dialogue, organised by the KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council, and which included Umlazi residents from South Korea, Burundi, the Congo and Zimbabwe, discussed the role of churches in fighting xenophobia.
Rev Sipho Sokhela, co-ordinator of psychosocial programmes for peace at the council, said: “By taking the conversation to our congregants we are talking directly to communities because most people — about 85% of the population — go to church. Pastors have an opportunity and a platform to influence people every Sunday.
“Most of the conflict comes because of fear of the unknown — and people don’t know each other. Dialogue, worship and sports events can go a long way in breaking the distrust and separation from each other.”