PRETORIA, South African Home Affairs (Interior) Minister Malusi Gigaba has called on South Africans and immigrants living in the country to respect each other’s dignity and human rights and not to label each other indiscriminately.

Addressing a congregation at the Lighthouse Chapel International Church in Sunnyside, Pretoria, on Sunday, Gigaba said the vast majority of South Africans are not xenophobic and the majority of immigrants are not criminals..

Sunnyside was one of the hot spots where violence erupted after a march against illegal immigrants on Friday. More than 130 people were arrested after police had to intervene several times with stun grenades, teargas and rubber bullets to keep groups of South Africans and immigrants in Pretoria apart.

On Sunday, the scene took a spiritual turn with Gigaba addressing the church congregation.

Although the situation remained calm over the weekend, Gigaba said: “Just as we don’t talk about black crime, white crime, Zulu crime or Tswana crime, let us not talk about immigrant crime”

He said the immigrant communities in the country contributed to the economy and added value to their societies. “Let us take action against crime, not immigrant crime, full stop. Crime is not better when committed by a South African, but only worse when an immigrant commits it,” he said.

“A drug dealer who happens to be Nigerian does not mean all Nigerians do crime.”

Gigaba said the authorities were in the final stages of developing a White Paper for international migration which would ensure the country remained open for a manageable number of immigrants without disadvantaging South Africans.