Former president Thabo Mbeki says South Africans must stop blaming foreigners for all crime.

Mbeki engaged with students and diplomats at the University of SA (Unisa) in Pretoria this week.

SA must not buy into the notion that foreigners are criminals. Suspected criminals should be arrested regardless of their nationality.

“We need to walk away from the false notion that the bulk of crime in this country is caused by foreigners. It is not correct. The bulk of crime in this country is committed by South Africans.

“Yes, there are foreigners who commit crimes. You should arrest them and charge them. This is what we should do and avoid labelling other people.”

SA could not have an immigration policy which chased away foreigners, the former president said.

Foreigners made a huge contribution to the country’s freedom and people died in Mozambique for supporting SA.

“If South Africans feel there are too many Nigerians coming in, then let’s engage the Nigerian government to say let’s manage this thing together.

“We can’t have a policy that has a major objective to chase away foreign nationals. As the ANC, you can’t lead a process like that. It’s not right.”

Earlier this month, police minister Bheki Cele said the number of South Africans in prison showed that foreigners are not the problem.

More than 500,000 inmates in SA’s 243 prisons are South African and 18,000 are foreigners.

“Foreign nationals are not a problem. It is South Africans. They are in prison in large numbers, which means they do things they are not supposed to do.”

Prisons are overcrowded by 33.3% and the country needs to go beyond policing.

“SA cannot be a prison,” he said.

“The call to arrest cannot be a permanent call. Something else must be done. Other things and other ways must be found.” TimesLive

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