A prominent South African citizen has reacted to the present wave of xenophobic attacks, which has now incurred criticism from the international community.
Highly respected Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng says South Africans are not xenophobic but that they are starved of economic gain.
Speaking at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s spring graduation, Mogoeng said there was a link to economic strife and xenophobia.
“South Africans are not xenophobic. If I was xenophobic, I would be attacking the vice chancellor (a foreign national) now.”
He said that the largest African against African xenophobic attacks occurred in 2008.
“We must ask, why is it that the large-scale attack of that nature is happening again in 2019. We tend to prefer naming and labelling things. In 2008, we had an economic meltdown all over the world. People were hungry and retrenched on a massive scale.”
He added that jobs are scarce and that life is “expensive”.
“So, just like Archbishop [Emeritus Desmond] Tutu warned the Pretoria Afrikaner chamber of business some 13 years ago, truly desperate people resort to desperate measures.”
Mogoeng said all criminality should be punished.
“Every crime must be punished and be punished thoroughly because it projects SA in a very bad light and gives a perception that the African continent of people are incapable of dealing with their problems properly.”
He questioned why South African intellectuals were not attacking their foreign counterparts.
“They have jobs, food to eat and opportunities. There may well be xenophobic elements but it is not where the problem ends. If you think teaching people to love one another, that will be the end of it, you are joking.”
He appealed to researchers to focus on the “true problems in Africa”.
“Let’s go deep into our problems. Why is a continent so rich in minerals, water and fertile soil, yet we are counted among the beggars? It is nonsensical.”