President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on South Africans not to use foreign nationals as scapegoats for the country’s economic woes.

He also lashed out at the looters of foreign owned shops in Johannesburg, calling it acts of criminality.

Ramaphosa addressed the South African Clothing and Textile Workers Union (SACTWU) congress in Durban on Monday.

On Saturday, President Ramaphosa was booed at the funeral service of former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe.

“Our image and our standing, and our integrity have therefore been negatively affected. We will have to work very hard as South Africans to regain our statue, our position. And in this regard, it was best to just stand up and say we are sorry for what happened. And in having said so we now need to make sure that it does not happen again.”

President Ramaphosa adds that it was necessary to apologise to Zimbabweans for the attacks directed at foreign nationals in parts of the country.

Listen to President Ramaphosa below:

The President says countries found it hard to accept that their citizens were being attacked in a country which promotes the protection of human rights.

End to gender-based violence

Ramaphosa also called for an end to gender-based violence. “It is something strange that men should now be attacking women. Because through rape, through violence and through femicide, it is men raising their hands and attacking women, attacking other human beings; and it is for that reason comrades that we say we must bring an end to this scourge. This scourge does not belong here in South Africa and it must end and we must end it now.”

Corruption

Weighing in on corruption, Ramaphosa says those implicated in the looting of public funds were fighting back.

“Corruption takes away money from the poor of our country, and we hope that SACTWU will become a partner with us in making sure that this is achieved. So comrades let us pull together and grow our country together, let us work together and make sure that even those who are trying to fight back – because there is some fight back campaign that is underway; even those who are fight back are in the end defeated,” the President laments.

He also calls on South Africans to follow him in buying locally manufactured goods.