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Migrant leaders applaud South African authorities for quelling xenophobic violence

Migrant leaders are crediting the South African government's quick response for preventing last week's xenophobic violence from mushrooming into something akin to the attacks of 2008 that left more than 60 dead.

By Savious KwinikaCorrespondent / July 28, 2010



Johannesburg, South Africa

In a bit of positive reinforcement, migrant leaders in South Africa are now hailing the government for its swift reaction to attacks against foreign nationals living in Africa's largest economy.

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The attacks, which the Monitor covered last week, came after months of warnings that angry South Africans would relaunch the type of xenophobic violence that killed more than 60 and displaced more than 200,000 in 2008.

Back in 2008, many leaders representing foreign communities targeted by the violence were critical of the government for failing to do more to prevent the brutal killings. But now, they're feeling quite complimentary.

“For the first time, we would like to applaud the government for the swift response in crushing the renewed xenophobic attacks on foreigners," says Gabriel Shumba, the executive director for Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF). “At this point in time, I can safely say my people – Zimbabweans – have taken a sigh of relief following the government's quick intervention. But credit must also go to police, army, civil society, churches, and all political parties for speaking strongly against xenophobia.”

In a separate interview on Tuesday, Kasim Ali, the secretary general of the Somali Association of South Africa (SASA), said he was pleased with the government's quick response before human life was lost as opposed to the ugly scenes of 2008 attacks.

“Indeed, we give credit where it is due," said Ali. "In this case, President Jacob Zuma's government deserves some praise for crushing the renewed xenophobic attacks before [anyone was killed]."

Bishop Paul Verryn of the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg says tranquility has now returned to most of the townships around the country, but called on South Africans to remain vigilant.

“I am glad that police and the army took the issue of xenophobia very seriously," says Verryn. “I cannot imagine the horror and humiliation that women went through since the renewed xenophobic attacks came into being.”

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