Archbishop of Cape Town condemns violence against foreigners

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I am Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town, and on behalf of the Anglican Church of Southern Africa, its Synod of Bishops and its people, drawn from Angola, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, St Helena and Swaziland, as well as across South Africa, we are deeply disturbed by the recent orchestrated attacks on citizens from outside our country – sadly called foreign nationals, for no one is foreign, all are all God’s people and all are Africans.

I am appalled and ashamed by the violence meted out against them, especially against truck drivers, and at the prejudice voiced against these vulnerable people who come from beyond our borders.

We are dismayed by the inept statements that fuel mindsets of rejection in the public discourse, and which disregard the trauma of displacement that these, God’s people, have to endure. Have we forgotten the pain that apartheid forced removals inflicted upon us? It is shocking that there are now those among us who want to inflict that same pain on others.

We can’t be ambivalent, we can’t be insensitive, to God’s people who happen to be from outside our borders. We condemn the violence meted out against them and as Archbishop I express our prayers for the traumatised and our condolences to those who have lost members of their families.

I thank President Ramaphosa for addressing the nation on this matter but pray that he will follow up and demand that the responsible branches of government act firmly, and especially that those who attacked people and looted their homes and businesses will be arrested and prosecuted.

I also call upon the ambassadors of South Africa in the countries whose nationals have been affected to offer apologies on behalf of our country and our churches. I have just attended the World Economic Forum and the buzz-word has been cross-border trade. How can we expect other countries in Africa to trade with us when we demean and mistreat others?

I call on members of my own church and all those in the household of faith to contribute in whatever way possible to help those who have been the victims of attacks. I confess my own intolerance, and our intolerance as South Africans, and I commit my church to create spaces for dialogue where we can look at how we can support one another theologically, pastorally and in a practical way so that we move away from only condemning the government and towards being part of the solution ourselves.
God bless each one of you, and God bless Africa.