Anglican archbishop Thabo Makgoba said on Sunday he was “appalled and ashamed” at the violent attacks on foreigners in South Africa last week, as well as the ongoing attacks on truckers.
Preaching at church services in Cape Town, the archbishop urged President Cyril Ramaphosa to “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”.
“We [in the church] 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 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.”
He voiced his shock that South Africans could inflict the same pain on others as they had experienced in apartheid’s forced removals.
“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.”
Makgoba also extended apologies on behalf of the South African religious community to those countries whose nationals were attacked.
“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 am also calling on members of our church and all those in the household of faith to contribute in whatever way possible to help those who have been the victim of attacks.
“. . .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.”