This cannot continue. These senseless acts of violence against foreign nationals desecrate those constitutional values and rights which seek to ensure a society founded on human dignity, equality and freedom – for everyone in South Africa.

Ours is a constitutional democracy based on the Rule of Law and fundamental rights and freedoms. These include the right to human dignity, the right to life, and to freedom and security of the person. In addition, neither the state nor any person may unfairly discriminate directly or indirectly against anyone on the grounds of birth, ethnic or social origin, culture, race, or any other grounds, in terms of section 9 of the Constitution. News reports, however, tell a different story.

In this regard, leaders – whether political, cultural, community or religious leaders – need to lead. They need to speak out and condemn this lawlessness and those who are committing these crimes. They need to provide leadership in their communities – wherever in South Africa – by being a voice for those who are calling for help, and a voice against those who are perpetrating these heinous crimes. Leaders who fail to speak out may well be as responsible for these criminal acts as leaders who are creating the perception that it is acceptable to attack or intimidate foreign nationals or anyone else in South Africa. Leaders urgently need to reiterate and promote our constitutional values and principles, and stand up against the increasing lawlessness in our country.

By Adv Johan Kruger, Director: Centre for Constitutional Rights

Photo credit: GovernmentZA / Foter / CC BY-ND