Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, South Africa’s minister of defence, says the xenophobic attacks in the country are “well orchestrated by criminal elements”.
The minister said South Africa is “an angry nation” and denied there are targeted attacks against foreigners.
South Africans have been carrying out targeted attacks against foreigners, including Nigerians.
On Sunday, they returned to the streets in protest, asking foreigners — who they have accused of undermining their laws — to vacate.
But In an interview with eNCA, a South African media outfit, Mapisa-Nqakula described what is happening as an attempt by criminals to take advantage of the country’s current challenges.
She said: “People are saying it is xenophobic attacks (but) it is not the first time we have had them in the past. Here, we have criminals that have read the situation and are aware that we have challenges right now.
“We have talked on the issues of high rate of unemployment, of some foreign nationals who are not conducting themselves in an appropriate manner as we would expect, those breaking the bylaws of the country, and you now have criminal elements who have decided that we are going to use all of those things to find reasons to attack people. It is unfortunate and should not happen.
“The reality is that we need to have a serious dialogue about what is happening, we must take responsibility. The reality is that we are an angry nation and we must talk about it.
“Why are we an angry nation? Why are we so determined to collapse our project of nation building and social cohesion? We need to hold hands together between government and all state entities and the civil society and find solutions to what is happening.”
She added that the crisis in the country “can never” be prevented by any government, and that the South African government must discuss with the people on the way forward.
“People are saying some heads of state decided not to attend WEF; we should be talking about why this whole thing is coinciding with the World Economic Forum,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.
“We should talk about this which clearly is well orchestrated by criminal elements. Nothing political whatsoever.”