Harare(New Ziana)-South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday apologised to Zimbabwe for the on-going xenophobic attacks on African migrants in his country in which Zimbabweans have also been caught up.
Addressing mourners at former President Robert Mugabe’s funeral service in Harare, President Ramaphosa said the black-on-black violence sweeping across South Africa was not only regrettable, but senseless.
Ex-President Mugabe died in Singapore last week at the age of 95.
Mourners, angry over the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, booed President Ramaphosa when he spoke at former President Mugabe’s funeral service, prompting him to apologize for the violence in which two Zimbabweans have been killed, and hundreds others displaced.
“For the past two weeks, we have had episodes of violence in some parts of our country which has caused death to fellow Africans. I stand before you as a fellow African to express my regret and to apologise for what has happened in our country. What has happened in South Africa goes against the principals of the unity of the African people that President Mugabe and President Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo and the great leaders of our continent stood for.
“We are working very hard to encourage all our people to embrace people from all African countries and the events that unfolded are regrettable,” he said.
President Ramaphosa said the majority of South Africans were against the violence.
“We welcome people from other countries and we are working hard to encourage and promote social cohesion of all the people of South Africa, working and living side by side with people from other parts of our continent. We want to embrace a spirit of unity. This is the unity that Mugabe fought (for) and will be remembered,” said the South African leader, to wild cheers from the mourners.
Mobs of mainly young South Africans have been attacking and looting shops and businesses owned by foreign African migrants in Johannesburg and other cities, resulting in deaths and injury to scores of people.
The government here has said at least two Zimbabweans lost their lives in the xenophobic attacks, while 171 others were affected by the violence.
In response, government is working on repatriating over 150 nationals who have volunteered to return home from South Africa.
The attacks have drawn widespread criticism from across Africa, and led to retaliation against South African businesses in Nigeria and Mozambique.
“President Mugabe stood by us during our darkest hour. He was unwavering in his support for our liberation struggle. Under his leadership, Zimbabwe and especially Zanu PF gave both moral and material support to us at the time when our leadership was forced into exile and our people were suffering under the yoke of apartheid,” said President Ramaphosa.
Several African leaders, past and present, attended the funeral service former President Mugabe.