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'I am a South African'

30 April 2015 - 09:35 By PENWELL DLAMINI

Xenophobia will resurface if the government fails to get to the heart of the problem, warned Graça Machel, the widow of former president Nelson Mandela. At the memorial service of Mozambican Emmanuel Sithole yesterday, Machel said: "We may say that in 2008 we did not know [xenophobic attacks could occur]. Now in 2015, we can no longer say we do not know. Now we know how bad it can be. Our actions have to be proportional to the deep crisis we are going through.''She added: ''Today I want to make it clear and loud. I am a South African. I am a Mozambican, Zambian, Zimbabwean, Malawian, I'm Swazi, Sotho, Tswana. I belong to any of the nations. Not only all of Africa but especially in Southern Africa.''Sithole was stabbed to death in Alexandra at the height of the latest xenophobic violence, which killed seven people.Johannesburg mayor Parks Tau was among those who attended the memorial service in Alexandra's East Bank Hall.Calling herself "the mother of the nation" and "the most visible face of a foreigner", Machel said it was a concern that in both 2008, when more than 60 people were killed, and this year the most prominent victims of the xenophobic violence came from her native country, Mozambique .Ernesto Alfabeto Nhamuave, a 35-year-old Mozambican, was burned alive during xenophobic violence in Ekurhuleni in May 2008 . The photographs of both men's deaths shocked the world.Machel said: "It is up to our political leaders and business leaders to understand that if we do not create the political and economic opportunities that are going to allow any citizen of Southern Africa to feel at home anywhere, we will continue to have these kinds of situations."She said while the violence had been directed at foreigners, "tomorrow it will be against South Africans themselves".The City of Johannesburg and the SA Council of Churches will cover the cost of the repatriation of Sithole's remains. He will be buried in Mozambique on Saturday.Last weekend, President Jacob Zuma accused neighbouring countries of shirking their share of the blame, stating: "As much as we have a problem, our neighbouring countries contribute to this. It's not useful to be critical of South Africa as if we mushroom these foreign nationals and then mistreat them."President Robert Mugabe yesterday spared Zuma - in Zimbabwe for a SADC summit - embarrassment by calling for SADC-wide consultation on how to help South Africa deal with the issue. ''Our people should not have the instinct of rushing into South Africa ... I don't know what is attractive there,'' he said.Mugabe's spokesman had earlier criticised Zuma's comments.Malawi's foreign minister, George Chaponda, said his government had prioritised job creation to reduce the flow of Malawians into South Africa.The International Criminal Court has confirmed receipt of a hate speech complaint by a Nigerian rights group against Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini for saying foreigners should leave. - Additional reporting by Nhlalo Ndaba and Ulemu Teputepu..

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