NEWS

Pretoria March Wasn't Xenophobic, Says President Zuma

'This has been provoked by crime,' says Zuma. 'We must focus on drug lords and deal with them.'

28/02/2017 20:26 SAST | Updated 28/02/2017 20:40 SAST
Gallo Images / Thapelo Maphakela
Protesters sing and chant during protest over immigrants in Pretoria on February 24. Police fired rubber bullets and stun grenades to control the situation.

President Jacob Zuma on Tuesday visited Soshanguve in an effort to address crime.

"Crime is a major problem that is facing the country and I'm trying to find ways and means of dealing with it," he told reporters.

He said a resident had written to him about the high crime levels in the area, north of Pretoria.

His main focus was on drug trafficking and substance abuse and the impact drugs such as nyaope had on crime.

"I have been discussing with my colleagues and we have said in no way can we sit in South Africa and live side-by-side with criminals."

When Zuma arrived at the Soshanguve Crossing Mall, accompanied by a large number of police officers, some residents chanted "Zuma, Zuma". Others said "this is our yellow-bone president, we want to touch him", as they pushed each other in order to get a glimpse of him.

An elderly woman at the mall said he needed to address unemployment as well.

"The reason why there is crime in the area is because our children are not working. They are busy occupying the streets and taking drugs and committing crime," the woman, who wished to remain anonymous, told News24.

'We will be visiting other areas'

Zuma visited the Rietgat police station for a briefing on crime in the area.

"We are satisfied we will be visiting other areas with the report and we are able to know what else needs to be done here in terms of policing. So we are happy. I'm visiting here, as I did the Western Cape," he said.

In his State of the Nation Address, Zuma highlighted that government was working to fight the social ills that were tearing communities apart.

From Soshanguve to Rosettenville, and from KwaMashu to the Cape Flats, communities were in difficulty because of drugs, he said.

On February 14, Zuma made an impromptu visit to the Nyanga police station in Cape Town. Nyanga was on the list of the worst 10 precincts for crime in the Western Cape for 2016. A total of 10,785 crimes were reportedly committed there in 2016.

Zuma said the march against immigrants in Pretoria on Friday was evidence that citizens were fed up with crime. He said the march included foreign nationals, was well-organised, and was not xenophobic.

"We do have a big problem. This time around this has been provoked by crime."

He said the media should be careful about labelling protests xenophobic. Political leaders had to be cautious with their messages.

"We must focus on drug lords and deal with them. Those are the gaps we need to close."

News24

Watch: The So-Called Peaceful March Against Foreigners Turned Violent