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South Africans to remember victims of attacks

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South Africans to remember victims of attacks

by Bathandwa Mbola
26 Jun 2008
BuaNews Online
BuaNews Online

A national day of healing will be held on 3 July to give the nation the opportunity to pay their respects to all those who lost their lives during the recent attacks on people from other countries and to come together to heal.

"In the interest of promoting peace and tolerance, government and other stakeholders will pay a National Tribute in remembrance of foreign nationals and South Africans who suffered in the recent violent attacks," the Presidency said in a statement on Thursday.

Although the day will not be a public holiday, a service will be held at Pretoria's City Hall to show remorse and reiterate that such acts of violence are never repeated.

Leaders of government, the diplomatic corps, the victims' family and ordinary South Africans are expected to attend.

A total of 62 people were killed, scores injured and about 47 000 people were displaced following the attacks which broke out in Alexander, Johannesburg, on 11 May.

Those who were forced to leave their homes sought refuge at local police stations.

Government has been able to move them to safer temporary shelters set up at strategic points around the country.

The violent attacks in communities particularly across Gauteng, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal also claimed the lives of 21 South Africans.

South Africans and the government have condemned the violence and formed anti-violence society groups. The South African National Defence Force was deployed in certain hotspots to assist the police in maintaining stability.

Government set up an inter-ministerial task team to investigate the root causes of the violence.

Civil society and government have been collaborating to ensure that those displaced are provided with proper basic services.

International agencies such as the UNHCR, Oxfam, Doctors without Borders, the Red Cross and a number of South African non-governmental organisations have been engaged to ensure the shelters comply with minimum international standards.

These include access to water, sanitation, electricity, fencing, security, bedding, food and medical services.

Different task teams have been set up at local level to coordinate the provision of humanitarian support to those affected while several institutions as well as communities have made donations to assist with provision of non-governmental services such as clothing, food and toiletries to maintain basic hygiene.

About 6 164 of the displaced people in Gauteng have been moved from police stations, churches and community halls to temporary shelters and government seeks to reintegrate them back into communities within two months.

In the Western Cape 13 000 of the 20 000 displaced people have also been placed in temporary shelters.

Site managers have also been employed to deal with the complaints about the shelters.

A number of those in temporary shelters throughout the country have significantly decreased because people have voluntarily gone back to their homes and community members have welcomed them back, according to the Presidency.

Government's priority now is to reintegrate the displaced within two months, Government Spokesperson Themba Masseko said in the beginning of June.

"It is not going to be easy. Government acknowledges that this is a very complex process.

"Government will work with all stakeholders to ensure that ideal conditions are created for the reintegration process which will involve dialogue and consultations with and between local communities and the displaced foreign nationals," Mr Maseko said at the time.

The Presidency has reiterated this saying that government is working in partnership with religious and civil society leaders in ensuring sustained peaceful co-existence.

Government's ongoing efforts to reintegrate foreign nationals include the promotion of the return of the displaced people to their communities, said the Presidency. - BuaNews
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