Former South African president, Thabo Mbeki has cautioned South Africans to stop blaming foreigners for committing the bulk of crime in South Africa.
Mbeki told a gathering at the University of South Africa (UNISA) on Wednesday that far from blaming other Africans, “the bulk of crime in this country is caused is committed by South Africans. There are foreigners who commit crimes. You should arrest them and charge them this is what we should do and avoid labelling other people.”
He had earlier said: “We need to walk away from the false notion that the bulk of crime in this country is caused by foreigners. It is not correct.
“If South Africans feel there are too many Nigerians coming in, then let’s engage the Nigerian government to say let’s manage this thing together.
“We can’t have a policy that has a major objective to chase away foreign nationals. As the ANC, you can’t lead a process like that. It’s not right.”
Mbeki has always been a firm pan-Africanist and is hated by some in South Africa for always coming to the defense of foreigners in South Africa. Since 2008, he has always stated categorically that attacks towards foreigners are not xenophobic, but symptomatic of general crime in the country.
South Africa could not have an immigration policy which chased away foreigners, the former president said.
Foreigners made a huge contribution to the country’s freedom and people died in Mozambique for supporting South Africa.
Earlier this month, Police Minister Bheki Cele said the number of South Africans in prison showed that foreigners are not the problem.
More than 500,000 inmates in SA’s 243 prisons are South African and 18,000 are foreigners.
“Foreign nationals are not a problem. It is South Africans. They are in prison in large numbers, which means they do things they are not supposed to do.”
Prisons are overcrowded by 33.3% and the country needs to go beyond policing.
“SA cannot be a prison,” he said.
“The call to arrest cannot be a permanent call. Something else must be done. Other things and other ways must be found.”
Another pro-foreigner voice in South Africa is that of Julius Malema and his Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party.
South Africa’s economy is struggling and unemployment is high, leading many frustrated South Africans to attack foreigners, believing they are taking away jobs from them.
South Africa is home to a large Cameroonian diaspora mainly resident in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria.