AFRICA/SOUTH AFRICA - "Xenophobia risks bringing us back to the times of apartheid"

Tuesday, 30 April 2019 xenophobia   bishops  

Johannesburg (Agenzia Fides) - "If unjustified violent attacks against migrants and refugees do not stop, South Africans run the risk of becoming like the oppressors of the apartheid era" warns Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg in a message on the wave of xenophobic violence that affects migrants, refugees and workers from neighboring African countries.
"Xenophobic attacks have become so violent and frequent that members of the diplomatic corps have found it necessary to ask the Minister of Foreign Affairs for an explanation", said Mgr. Tlhagale. "Attacks on migrants cannot be reduced to hooliganism, because they are clearly fueled by anti-foreign sentiments. Should these attacks continue, tensions will emerge between South Africa and other African countries", the Archbishop underlines. "If the violence continues to dominate the relations of migrants and the local population, South Africans living in various African countries should not be surprised the day they are identified, attacked or persecuted because of the intolerance and resentment shown to migrants in their Country of origin".
Mgr. Tlhagale recalls that "migrants from Lesotho, Malawi and Mozambique have been employed in the mining sector for decades" and that "migrants bring skills to the economy". In addition, there are migrants who "run businesses and provide jobs to the local population". "The contribution of migrants to the economy is therefore significant", says Mgr. Tlhagale.
But the contribution of migrants to South Africa goes beyond the economic aspect. "Migrants bring with them the passion for success, industriousness, cultural diversity and a sense of openness to the world in contrast with nationalism and narrow isolationism", recalls the Archbishop of Johannesburg, according to whom "migrants show a rich cultural diversity in the form of customs, traditions, fashion, music and art".
They recall that young people in South Africa have always been at the forefront of struggles for social justice. Mgr. Tlhagale denounces "their silence" on xenophobia. "Their prophetic voices seem to have been attenuated at a time when their support and solidarity would have made a significant difference. "The virtue of hospitality among South Africans is currently a scarce resource", he concludes. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 30/4/2019)