SAPOA calls for solidarity amidst xenophobic attacks

SAPOA Chief Executive Officer Neil Gopal

In light of the current violent xenophobic attacks that were recently sparked in South Africa, the South African Property Owners Association (SAPOA) is calling on the commercial property industry as well as all South Africans to take a stand against xenophobia.

In 2008, xenophobic attacks left several people dead and now in April 2015 the attacks resurfaced, resulting in a widespread outcry from the country, the African continent and the world.

After the nationwide spike in xenophobic attacks against immigrants, several foreign governments have begun to repatriating their citizens. Over the past two weeks local government and business having responded strongly.

SAPOA’s call to action adds weight to the current calls made by business leaders in the country. “We call upon all South African’s to find better ways of resolving this sensitive situation” says SAPOA Chief Executive Officer Neil Gopal. “The property industry wishes to add its voice to those of other concerned business leaders and condemn the violence unfolding in South Africa and the rest of the African continent,” he said “We call upon our national and provincial leaders to come into the townships, informal settlements and city neighbourhoods that have been hit by violence. We call upon the police to work with civil society to defuse and pre-empt mob attacks against those who are helpless to defend themselves and their property,” adds Gopal. Gopal highlights the rights granted by the Constitution to protect immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, and raises concerns about the difficult challenge of now reintegrating the people affected by violence back into society. Gopal is equally concerned about the effect that the xenophobic attacks will have on South African businesses in Africa. In light of the plethora of expressed outrage from around Africa, South African businesses operating in the rest of the continent may feel pressured.

South Africa relies quite heavily on Africa – according to statistics, South Africa was the biggest foreign investor in Africa in 2012 by the number of projects. Its investment in the continent has increased 536% in the past decade. South African companies such as Shoprite, MTN, Pick n Pay, Standard Bank and Multichoice operate in many African countries and this significantly contribute towards their revenues.

“The xenophobic attacks may have a profound effect on the commercial property industry,” notes Gopal. “Thus it’s critical for the industry to address the situation immediately,” concludes Gopal.