As Chief Executive Officer of South African Tourism, I want to state that I categorically condemn the appalling xenophobic attacks taking place in the various locations in our country.
It is with embarrassment and shame that I come before the world and especially my fellow Africans to apologise for these senseless attacks. I hold in contempt the loathing and subsequent attacks suffered by our brothers and sisters from the continent.
The majority of us South Africans, perceive and carry ourselves as Africans and believe what we have witnessed in some parts of our country goes against the grain of who we are as a people, our constitution, and the principles of Ubuntu that we so dearly adhere to.
I personally extend my sincerest apologies to you.
As my colleagues and I prepare for our Pan-African Trade Show, INDABA, from 9 to 11 May 2015, in the city of Durban, we wish to reassure all INDABA delegates and foreign nationals coming into South Africa that our country is safe for you to visit. We do not take for granted the support we have enjoyed over the years from our brothers and sisters throughout the continent in contributing to the growth of tourism into our country. We are also appreciative of the backing of our counterparts on the continent who have ensured that our flagship Trade Shows, INDABA and Meetings Africa, have grown in stature in the years they have been in existence.
We are heartened and uplifted that this matter is being managed at the highest level of the land. President Jacob Zuma has assigned the South African Ministers of Home Affairs, Police, State Security to work with provinces affected to contain the violence. Task teams have been established to coordinate the response.
Additional law enforcement officers have been mobilised from around the country and deployed to the affected areas to enforce the law and prevent further attacks. Since Monday morning 310 suspects have been arrested. All district disaster management centres have been placed on high-alert and a 24-hour call centre has been established. Shelters have been set-up to accommodate displaced foreign nationals and basic amenities such as water, sanitation, and healthcare are being provided.
Government is working closely with the UNHCR, UNICEF as well as non-governmental organisations to provide food, psycho-social and other support to those affected. The process of reintegrating those who were displaced back into their communities has begun. Community engagements are being conducted through the Communities in Dialogue programme, Community Safety Forums, Ward Committees and through Community Development Workers, amongst others.
The South African Constitution protects the rights of all people living within the country, South Africans and foreigners alike and everything is being done within the law to ensure safety of all citizens and foreign nationals irrespective of their status.
On behalf of South African Tourism, please accept our sincerest apologies during this time as we extend our hand of friendship to you. Please be rest assured that South Africa remains a welcoming destination filled with warm people.