AFRICA/SOUTH AFRICA - Violence against Nigerian migrants; the Bishops: "This is xenophobia, the police does nothing to prevent it"

Thursday, 5 September 2019 xenophobia   bishops  

Johannesburg (Agenzia Fides) - Tension between Nigeria and South Africa increases due to the violence against the Nigerian community that lives in the southern African country. South Africa has announced that it has temporarily closed its diplomatic missions in Lagos and Abuja for security reasons following retaliation against South African companies after attacks on foreign-owned business in Johannesburg. In South Africa a series of xenophobic assaults in two days resulted in 7 deaths and over 300 arrests.
South African authorities are under accusation for not having protected foreign communities in the Country and for having tried to minimize the episodes of violence. His Exc. Mgr. Buti Joseph Tlhagale, Archbishop of Johannesburg and at the head of the office for migrants and refugees of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference raised his voice. "Once again we receive news that the authorities have done very little to protect the victims", reads a statement sent to Agenzia Fides. "Once again they bring out the old interpretation: it is not xenophobia but the work of criminals", reports Mgr. Tlhagale.
"We must be absolutely clear. This is not the attempt of South African citizens worried about driving drug dealers out of our cities. And this is not the work of a few criminal elements. This is pure and simple xenophobia", Archbishop Tlhagale emphasizes. "If it is a war on drugs, then why are South African drug dealers not also affected? And if it is the work of a few criminals, why are South African shops not looted?".
"The teaching of the Church is direct and uncompromising. More than 80% of South Africans claim to be a Christian", recalls the statement. "What do our religious leaders teach the multitudes that fill our churches every Sunday? Galatians 3:28 says: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus". "At the same time there is neither South African nor Nigerian or Ethiopian. We are all one in Christ Jesus". (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 5/9/2019)