Cardinal Napier urges politicians to stop inciting hatred in South Africa

5 September 2019
Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference Secretary-General, Sr Hermenegild Makoro CPS, addresses a Caritas South Africa Assembly. Image: Vatican News.


Over the last two weeks, South Africa has been gripped by yet another wave of xenophobic violence, which began in Johannesburg and spread to the capital, Pretoria.

The Archbishop of Durban, Cardinal Wilfrid Fox Napier, O.F.M, has said that every life is precious and attacks against foreign nationals and migrants are wrong. The Cardinal was speaking on the sidelines of a Caritas South Africa General Assembly held recently at Lumko Institute Retreat Conference Centre – Benoni North in South Africa.

Every life has supreme value

“Xenophobia is not wrong just because someday I might be on the run and take refuge in someone else’s country. It is wrong because that person (the foreigner) is made in the image and likeness of God – just like me,” the Cardinal told Sheila Pires of South Africa’s Radio Veritas. He added, “Everyone, but everyone, has a life that is of supreme value. It does not matter where that person comes from, their origins, how they have come. It does not matter. Human beings are made in the image and likeness of God,” the Cardinal emphasised.

Situation has since calmed down

Over the last two weeks, gangs, in South Africa, have gone about attacking migrants and foreigners; looting and burning foreign-owned shops. The riots against foreigners allegedly emanated from the killing of a local taxi driver. The situation has since calmed down, but just before the weekend, sporadic outbursts of violence were reported in Sunnyside, one of the oldest suburbs of the city of Pretoria.

In spite of heavy patrols by police on the streets of Pretoria, looters did not seem to be deterred by their presence. Some observers in South Africa are accusing politicians and authorities of standing by as migrants, and foreign nationals were being attacked.

Politicians and some trade unions inciting the violence

Cardinal Napier has also said politicians must stop steering up anti-foreign sentiments.

“Politicians who are steering up feelings against foreigners are wrong. Some trade unions and sectors of different professions such as that of truck drivers are trying to make (foreigners) the reason why they are without jobs – because companies are hiring foreign drivers. It is not necessarily true. I don’t think they have even checked whether this is true or not,” said the Cardinal.

An honest conversation is needed

Sections of South African media say the government is using migrants and foreign nationals as scapegoats in the face of lack of service delivery and inability to create jobs. They are calling for an honest conversation over the matter of Xenophobia. The lack of deterrents is yet another problem. There does not seem to be any serious consequences for those who loot or attack foreigners.

With thanks to Vatican News and Paul Samasumo, where this article originally appeared.


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