Embrace humanity, urges Minister Gigaba

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Pretoria – Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has reiterated the call for all sectors of South African society to act humanely and in a lawful manner as the country deals with renewed incidents of violence directed at foreign nationals.

“There will be no progressive and sustainable victory in xenophobic violence. Opportunistic individuals who partake in it erode the human face we have struggled very hard to acquire. While a more measured approach may not make me the most popular politician, I believe it is the right thing to do.

“Our democracy enshrines our hard-earned human rights. We are first and foremost humans. This reality cannot be diluted by your country of origin or what documents you hold, or lack thereof. Humanity, within the context of our Constitution, is not only a cultural prescript of Ubuntu, it is also about legal compliance and respect for rights of all persons,” the Minister said on Thursday.

Recently, there have been cases of attacks on foreign nationals in parts of Pretoria and Johannesburg. In some instances, foreign nationals were attacked, their houses burnt and their shops looted. The looting and burning of the houses follow accusations that some foreign nationals are drug dealers and are running brothels in Pretoria West.

Some local community members where violence has erupted accused foreign nationals of taking their jobs.

The Minister was at pains to explain that while there may be reasons that fuel tension between locals and immigrants, law and order had to prevail.

“We must address matters raised by communities in a legal framework, while ensuring at all times they also raise matters within the confines of the law.”

With regard to concerns from locals about foreign nationals being seemingly preferred by some employers, the Minister said the hospitality sector has made a commitment to comply with South Africa’s labour and immigration laws, especially the requirement to employ a minimum 60% of local people.

“This is the message we are taking to the rest of business, and will feature strongly in our upcoming meetings. There will be workplace inspections and penalties for employing undocumented foreigners will be imposed,” the Minister said.

A total of 63 people, who were employed by Spar supermarket without documentation, were arrested at three Spar stores. Of these, 19 females are detained at Pretoria Noord SAPS and 36 males and nine females are detained at Kameeldrift SAPS.

Minister Gigaba has instructed his office to set up a meeting with the management of Spar to discuss labour issues.

“Government is deeply concerned about outbreaks of violence, which may result in loss of life and damage to property.

“This is why Cabinet has firmly pronounced on this matter, and has expressed full support to ourselves and the Justice, Crime Prevention and Security (JCPS) cluster to move speedily in resolving these issues to the satisfaction of communities.”

Managing migration

The Minister said plenty of work has been done to improve the management of migration.

A total of 33 339 people were deported during the 2015/16 financial year.

The country first experienced xenophobic violence in 2008, with attacks on foreign nationals mainly in Gauteng (Alexandra, Diepsloot and Tembisa) and the Western Cape.

The 2008 attacks were investigated by the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC). According to the SAHRC, some of the reasons cited by communities included poor relations between local residents and key officials dealing with informal settlements, and corruption and indifference of leaders.

In 2015, another wave of attacks was seen in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. It was sparked by a labour dispute over the employment of foreign nationals at the KwaJeena Store in Isipingo. – SAnews.gov.za

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