Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu has led pleas for repentance, reconciliation and forgiveness following outbreaks of xenophobic attacks by some South Africans on refugees coming from Zimbabwe and elsewhere in Africa.
At a Christian service with multi-faith participation at St John's College in Johannesburg earlier this week, the Nobel Peace Laureate asked for forgiveness and repentance among those involved in violence, and stressed the practical commitment of the churches, notably his own Anglican one, to repair the fractured relationships and lives.
"The diocese of Johannesburg called together its people and said we need to repent and so that was a service to repent in which we confessed our sin of Xenophobia and they are saying we won’t tolerate this and we want to tell those who have been victims that we are sorry and we pray that we will not repeat what we did," said Archbishop Tutu.
Dr Tutu also mentioned that South Africans were welcomed as exiles, refugees and as freedom fighters in African lands and wondered if people could have forgotten so soon. He reminded South Africans that they were once held in high esteem, particularly for their forgiving and reconciling behaviour post-Apartheid.
He questioned the direction of the nation in relation to the level of crime and an accepted trend of leadership without responsibility, referring to recent controversial utterances by some leaders.
Archbishop Tutu stressed it was important that South Africans roll out the welcome mat for their African neighbours.
He said this was a human duty, but also a Christian one.