Our beloved country again finds itself in the glare of the international community, because of the sporadic and intermittent flare-up of violence and looting in Gauteng and other parts of the country. In the latest incident that started at the weekend, people were assaulted and their businesses looted in the Johannesburg CBD and surrounding suburbs, in what has struck fear among residents and businesspeople alike.
It is indeed shameful that the issue of xenophobia once again features in our country, especially as it comes against the backdrop of an upsurge of incidents of gender-based violence, as reported in the past few days. The looting and assaults of people just because they were not born in South Africa can never be justified, and amount to hate crime. Xenophobic violence undermines the rule of law, and must be condemned in the strongest terms possible.
The University of Johannesburg joins the national call to stop all acts of violence, intolerance and xenophobia. In South Africa, where foreigners are easy targets, we need to exercise caution and act with restraint, even in the midst of the social and economic problems we face. It cannot be that whenever people are faced with challenges, whether they are of economic or social nature, they find it convenient to target migrants for attacks.
We call on ordinary people and leaders to desist from making inflammatory statements that incite violence by blaming local economic conditions on migrants. Community and political leaders should speak out against the actions of their constituents and insist that they respect the rule of law and the dignity of everyone who lives in this country. Government must also intervene and bring perpetrators of violence to book. We should focus on initiatives that assist towards social cohesion and nation-building.
At UJ, we recognise the intellectual and cultural contribution that students and scholars from abroad make to our University and society at large, and we remain steadfast in providing a safe environment for all its staff and students. As aptly captured in our University’s values, we must practice mutual respect and inspire our community to transform and serve humanity. Once again, during times like this, we call on the University community to remain united and show solidarity with each other in the spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood. Let us exercise the spirit of Ubuntu.
In case of emergency, we encourage people to utilise the Namola safety application. Alternatively, please report any incident to the Protection Services Central Control Room on 011 559 2555 / 7609.