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Eastern Cape NGO Coalition Condemns Xenophobia

The majority of South Africans cannot help but feel a deep sense of humiliation and sadness over the emergence of the dark side to this great nation that was attained through the blood and sweat of peoples from all over the world, but more especially from African nations. It is activists, workers, young people, grandmothers and fathers, professionals and leaders that wonder, in disbelief how we could not have seen this coming, how we could not have done more to facilitate the integration of South Africans and foreign nationals. We wonder how, as NGOs, we could have missed the opportunity to “mainstream” the issues of racism and xenophobia with the fight against poverty.

On Sunday 25th May, all of Africa celebrated Africa day, a day that reflects freedom, both from colonialism and economic exploitation. As this happened, a dark cloud hung over South Africa, as many asked whether South Africa should really celebrate after the embarrassment it is faced with. This day should have been used more to find means to correct the wrong that has been done. Maybe take a lesson from the residents of Masiphumelele, near Fish Hoek in the Western Cape, who used the day before Africa Day as an opportunity to publicly apologise to local foreign nationals for the atrocities committed against them.

As a representative organisation of the NGO sector in the Eastern Cape, we join the great majority of South Africans and peoples of the world in strongly condemning the barbaric and unwarranted attacks on our African brothers and sisters. We further believe that there is a lot to be done in terms of people’s mental liberation to understand that foreign nationals, especially those from Africa, are not necessarily an economic burden in our country. We are also under no illusion about how the intolerable levels of poverty, unemployment, crime and shortage of houses could have been at the centre of people’s frustrations. Over and above bringing the perpetrators of such crimes to justice, we also call our government to heed the cries of people for a better life.

Together with our members and partners, the Eastern Cape NGO Coalition (ECNGOC) commits itself to fight all forms of discrimination as we continue to advocate for socio-economic transformation. We further call on all our members to be vigilant within their communities, using every possible means to uproot and expose any possibilities of viewing our brothers and sisters from Africa as THE problem where poverty is concerned. Communities need to be mobilized to rather use their energies to claiming their rights as outlined in constitution, using democratic means. In the Eastern Cape, communities, churches and other sectoral partners should work together and show the world that we understand the meaning of being African. We are all true Africans and must speak out against xenophobia in our workplaces, schools, our communities or homes. By keeping silent the legacy of the wise and noble great African Leader Nelson Mandela will wilt and dissipate. The message to condemn xenophobia and ethnic cleansing must be clear: it has no place in our society.

Jimmy Gotyana

ECNGOC Chairperson

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