Xenophobia: Let Us All Stand Together, an Africa United

I have been watching the past ten days’ events unfold in utter shock and disbelief. As you know, across our country there have been growing incidents of violence and intolerance toward our fellow Africans who have come to seek a better life in South Africa. It is deeply saddening and, at the same time, frightening to think that as a nation that has emerged from a painful era of intolerance and segregation, some in our fold have elected to impose the same hurt on undeserving immigrants. It is not unexpected that South African interests in neighbouring countries would become targets of frustration as a consequence.

At this time, we should laud Government’s efforts to promote dialogue and engagement within the affected communities and the deployment of more police to quell violence, should be supported. As South African Airways (SAA), we are a globally-present, State Owned Company and have foreign nationals working around the world. We have a duty to add our support, among many, that xenophobia will not take us anywhere.

As democracy dawned on our country, South Africa became the wunderkind of the world. We showed intolerance and discrimination a huge thumbs down, as a nation we emerged from some of the darkest days into the light. Now is the time to do so again. Now is the time that each South African and, in our microcosm, each SAA employee across our wonderful continent, leads by example. I ask that the SAA Group family, across each brand in our business; SAA, SAA Technical, Air Chefs, and Mango, remain at the forefront of upholding our values as a nation and our values as employees of a cross-continental company dependent on all of Africa’s success in order to thrive. South Africa needs an Africa united, SAA needs an Africa united.

 SAA and many other businesses promote intra-continental trade and therefore, we need to work together. As citizens, let us also be vigilant; never engage in negative behaviour such as this. In fact, we should do all in our power to support all people who are in the country, no matter origin or creed. We are all Africans and the attacks on fellow brothers and sisters from any part of the continent should not be tolerated.

The safety of our colleagues is also a primary concern. During this time I would like to thank our flight deck and cabin crew who night-stop across the continent daily for their continued commitment during this time. Please be aware that we have implemented additional security measures to ensure your safety and comfort during all operations. Our frontline colleagues in every African port, thank you for keeping us informed and flying our flag despite the current challenges. This cup too shall pass; and I ask that every member of the SAA family stands up and be counted during this time. We are all leaders in our respective areas; and now is the time to shine for our fellow man.

I assure you that SAA is working closely with all role players to make a positive difference; to ensure the safety of our staff and the comfort of our passengers.