Ghana: ECOWAS condemns xenophobic attacks in South Africa

Accra, Ghana (PANA) - West African leaders on Friday condemned the xenophobic murders of Africans in South Africa and urged the government of President Jacob Zuma to end the barbaric and criminal wave of attacks.

"The Authority of ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States) of Heads of State and Government (condemns) the barbaric, criminal and xenophobic murder of innocent African foreigners in South Africa, and (urges) the South African Government to act quickly to stop the increasing wave of attacks across the country," ECOWAS said in a statement issued in Accra by John Dramani Mahama, Ghana's president and current chairman of the sub-regional group.

ECOWAS leaders also condemned individual South Africans involved in the act.

The West African body described as "a pity, the fact that the very people, whose nations sacrificed to help South Africans fight, repel and defeat apartheid, will today be considered aliens and hacked to death in such barbaric manners".

ECOWAS leaders said they welcomed the statement of President Zuma, and his assurances of a peaceful resolution, but requested "an urgent national action plan, backed by a behavioral change campaign against xenophobia in South Africa.”

At least five Africans have been killed in South Africa in the xenophobic violence and President Zuma on Thursday extended condolences to those who have lost loved ones.

Addressing the National Assembly in Cape Town, President Zuma said the recent violence violated respect for life, human dignity and the African culture of ubuntu (unity).

He said his government stood against racism, xenophobia, homophobia and sexism.

"South Africans are generally not xenophobic. If they were, we would not have so many foreign nationals who have integrated here," he added.

Zuma told his countrymen that it was important to remember that, during the liberation struggle, many African nations harboured South African exiles, adding: “When we were in trouble, they helped us to fight for our own liberation and did not chase us away.”

The attacks on foreign-owned shops which started in Durban last week have now spread to Johannesburg, where many foreigners have fled. Earlier in the day, thousands of people marched through Durban to protest against xenophobia.

Meanwhile, a second complaint of hate speech has been laid against Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, who has come under enormous criticism for fuelling sentiment against foreigners.

In a speech to thousands of supporters in Pongola last month, Zwelithini complained about crime and dirty streets and said immigrants “should take their bags and go”.

The Western Cape branch of the South African National Defence Union has laid a charge with the South African Human Rights Commission.

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has also condemned the attacks, describing them as “criminal acts against vulnerable and defenceless people who have sought refuge, solace and economic prosperity in our country”.
-0- PANA MA/SEG 17April2015

17 april 2015 08:35:37

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