President Jacob Zuma said on Saturday his country is not driving foreigners away after days of violence against foreigners in parts of the country.
“As government, we’re not saying to you go away. It is not every South African who is saying go away. It is a very small number of people who say so,” Zuma told a group of displaced foreigners at a camp in Chatsworth, Durban.
Zuma was visiting the camp, accompanied by Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba and other government officials.
“We are firstly going to stop the violence then allow them to stay here. Even those who want to go home, they must know that when we have stopped the violence they are welcome to come back,” Zuma said.
But he said his government was ready help repatriate foreigners who want to go back to their home countries.
Despite the South African government’s pledge to ensure the safety of foreigners, some African countries are already beginning to repatriate their citizens.
Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa Isaac Moyo said Zimbabwe would on Sunday start repatriating about 1,000 Zimbabweans affected by the attacks in Durban.
The Malawi government has also started its repatriation process.
Zuma cancelled his visit to Indonesia in order to attend to matters at home relating to the attacks on foreign nationals.
He was due to leave for Indonesia Saturday evening for a state visit and to attend the Africa-Asia Summit and the commemoration of the historic summit in Bandung, Indonesia in 1955 which brought together Africa and Asia to push forward the struggle for liberation and self-determination.
Meanwhile, violence seemed to have abated in Durban and Johannesburg, where looting of foreign-owned shops was reported overnight.
Police said they are continuing to monitor the situation.