Govt will not tolerate attacks on foreign nationals - Gigaba

Thursday, November 19, 2009
By: 
Nthambeleni Gabara

Pretoria - Home Affairs Deputy Minister, Malusi Gigaba, has reiterated that government will not tolerate any form of violent attack on people from other countries.

He said South Africans should also refrain from stereotyping foreign nationals living in the country.

"We want to make it clear that most migrants in the country are law abiding citizens, so we want to urge our people to stop stereotyping every migrant as a criminal, especially those of Africans origins," said the minister on Thursday.

He was speaking during a press briefing following an outbreak of violence in the Hex River Valley town of De Doorns earlier this week. Thousands of displaced Zimbabweans were evicted from the area.

However, the minister said that the incident had not been motivated by xenophobia, saying that in fact the violent was caused by a contravention of the Basic Employment Act by certain farmers in the area.

He said when foreign nationals are exploited by their employers they immediately become vulnerable to all forms of attack by locals.

"We are appealing to people to exercise restraints when venting their grievances. The law will be tough. If people don't want to go to jail, then they must refrain from criminal activities," he said.

The department has dispatched officials to assist the displaced foreign nationals in the area with documents, said Gigaba, adding that the department was planning to review and relaunch its anti-xenophobic campaign.

The South African Development Community (SADC) is currently experiencing a dynamic migration trend.

"There are a lot of movements within the region and South Africa is receiving the lot of migrants, including economic migrants, asylum seekers, tourists and undocumented migrants," Gigaba said.

He attributed the movements within the region to the visa exemption agreed upon by the SADC countries.

In order to deal effectively with migrants, the Deputy Minister said they are working on a plan to separate economic migrants and refugees.

He indicated that more than 60 percent of foreign nationals claimed to be asylum seekers when they arrived in the country, even though they did not left their respective countries in fear of persecution.

"You cannot grant asylum to someone who is not running away from persecution and we know that in most of the neighbouring countries, there is no war and violence, so most of them are looking for jobs as their countries are faced with difficult economic challenges," he said.

The department is planning to open more refugee offices in both Bloemfontein and the Northern Cape.

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