Ways South African Authorities Caused the Xenophobic Attacks

Ways South African Authorities Caused the Xenophobic Attacks

Wednesday, September 4, 2019 2:34 pm


Cyril Ramaphosa

Ademola Adegbamigbe

The xenophobic attacks on immigrants, especially Nigerians, in South Africa, have been attracting world attention. What is clear is that the South African authorities have not handled the matter well. Their utterances have helped to exacerbate things.

First, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, on 20 March, triggered a revolt against foreigners at a campaign rally, complaining about foreign nationals who come to take their jobs and businesses.

In his words: “Everybody just arrives in our townships and rural areas, and set up businesses without licences and payments.”

“We are going to bring this to an end, and those who are operating illegally, wherever they come from must now know.”

Of course, there were pockets of violence targeted at foreigners shortly after this statement and, expectedly, Ramaphosa, as Cable reported, was quick to condemn this ‘in strong terms.’

Watch the video here: https://youtu.be/vDtgn4LprTY

However, he might have realized that you don’t lose election by a speech you did not make, he reversed himself when violence broke out: “It is not acceptable that anyone of us as South Africans can go out and attack people from other countries because they come from other countries.”

Bongai Mkongi

Also, in July 2017, Deputy Police Minister, Bongai Mkongi visited the local police station where he accused foreign nationals in Hillbrow of economic sabotage. He blew his top, saying: “If we don’t debate that, that necessarily means the whole of South Africa could be 80% dominated by foreign nationals and the future president of South Africa could be a foreign national. We fought for this country, not only for us but for generations of South Africans to live in harmony in a non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa.”

“How can a city in South Africa be 80% foreign nationals? That is dangerous. South African have surrendered their own city to the foreigners.”

Watch the video here: https://youtu.be/4k8JVTtohmI

 

As we earlier published on this platform, ‘the Parliament of South Africa has issued a statement that tends to call a spade by other names on the xenophobic attacks against Nigerians in that country.

Thandi Modise

One, it refused to acknowledge or condemn South Africa, rather, it spoke on “the violence, which is driven by communities on both sides of the tension,” which has “entailed disturbing trends of lawlessness, assaults against our law enforcement officers.” Not a few have condemned the indecisiveness of the so-called “law enforcement agents” even as Nigerians were being attacked.

Second, it “urged relevant authorities and law enforcement agencies …to take appropriate steps regarding those living illegally in the country.” The issue of illegal immigrants should, for now, since lives have been lost, have been underplayed.

Third, nowhere did the legislature mention the nationalities of the victims, despite the open diplomatic shindig that the attacks have caused between Nigeria and South Africa.

The Presiding Officers of Parliament, led by National Assembly Speaker Ms Thandi Modise and National Council of Provinces Chairperson Mr Amos Masondo, have, according to the statement, noted with serious concern the ongoing sporadic violence characterised by tensions between South African communities and foreign nationals in certain parts of the country.

They said: “The violence, which is driven by communities on both sides of the tension, have entailed disturbing trends of lawlessness, assaults against our law enforcement officers, retaliatory attacks and looting of shops, amongst others. All these acts of criminality are an antithesis to the rule of law and democracy, and threatens our country’s culture of tolerance, peace and coexistence.”

The Presiding Officers have appealed for calm amongst these communities while urging “our country’s law enforcement agencies to spare no effort in stopping the mayhem and restoring peace and stability.”

The law enforcement agencies, according to them, must act with decisiveness and boldness in ensuring that any lawbreaker is brought to book regardless of nationality.

The Presiding Officers have also appealed to leaders from various sectors to assist in providing the necessary leadership in quelling the disorder, including acting circumspectly in their public comments.

They went further: “Much has been said about our country’s excessively porous borders and the influx of undocumented foreign nationals. While South Africa continues to be a welcoming nation to foreign nationals, illegal immigrants make the state’s Constitutional obligation which is to prevent, combat and investigate crime; maintain public order; and to protect and secure all those who live within its borders difficult to fulfil.”

Accordingly, relevant authorities and law enforcement agencies are urged to step up their efforts to curb this phenomenon and take appropriate steps regarding those living illegally in the country.

An urgent meeting between the Presiding Officers and the relevant oversight committees of Parliament will be called to determine a parliamentary intervention on the ongoing violent tensions in the country.

Below is the full statement, posted on abiodunborisade.com

“PARLIAMENT CONCERNED BY FLARE-UPS OF VIOLENCE

Parliament, Tuesday 03 September 2019 – The Presiding Officers of Parliament, led by National Assembly Speaker Ms Thandi Modise and National Council of Provinces Chairperson Mr Amos Masondo, have noted with serious concern the ongoing sporadic violence characterised by tensions between South African communities and foreign nationals in certain parts of the country.

The violence, which is driven by communities on both sides of the tension, has entailed disturbing trends of lawlessness, assaults against our law enforcement officers, retaliatory attacks and looting of shops, amongst others. All these acts of criminality are an antithesis to the rule of law and democracy, and threatens our country’s culture of tolerance, peace and coexistence.

The Presiding Officers have appealed for calm amongst these communities while urging our country’s law enforcement agencies to spare no effort in stopping the mayhem and restoring peace and stability. The law enforcement agencies must act with decisiveness and boldness in ensuring that any lawbreaker is brought to book regardless of nationality.

The Presiding Officers have also appealed to leaders from various sectors to assist in providing the necessary leadership in quelling the disorder, including acting circumspectly in their public comments.

Much has been said about our country’s excessively porous borders and the influx of undocumented foreign nationals. While South Africa continues to be a welcoming nation to foreign nationals, illegal immigrants make the state’s Constitutional obligation which is to prevent, combat and investigate crime; maintain public order; and to protect and secure all those who live within its borders difficult to fulfil.

Accordingly, relevant authorities and law enforcement agencies are urged to step up their efforts to curb this phenomenon and take appropriate steps regarding those living illegally in the country.

An urgent meeting between the Presiding Officers and the relevant oversight committees of Parliament will be called to determine a parliamentary intervention on the ongoing violent tensions in the country.

ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF SOUTH AFRICA”

 

Also, Mr Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of NIgeria, has blamed the South African authorites for their failure to address the challenge of poverty and inequality confronting the majority of the black people.

He argued: “The crisis has been compounded by wanton corruption and the neo liberal policies of the government. Hence, the South African masses have been denied the dividends of democracy by the African National Congress-led government. In particular, the masses have no access to health, housing, education and employment. Out of sheer frustration, millions of young people in South Africa have decided to subject African immigrants to xenophobic attacks.”

 

Read his submission below which TheNEWS published this morning, entitled:

 

Xenophobic Attacks. How Nigeria Should Tackle South Africa

By Femi Falana

Femi FalanaBy Femi Falana

Like its counterpart in Nigeria the political class in South Africa has failed to address the challenge of poverty and inequality confronting the majority of the black people. Even though apartheid was defeated by the people of South Africa over two decades ago the unjust socioeconomic system erected by capitalism has not been dismantled.

The crisis has been compounded by wanton corruption and the neo liberal policies of the government. Hence, the South African masses have been denied the dividends of democracy by the African National Congress-led government. In particular, the masses have no access to health, housing, education and employment. Out of sheer frustration, millions of young people in South Africa have decided to subject African immigrants to xenophobic attacks.

The ANC must accept responsibility for the misdirected antagonism against poor African immigrants. Apart from the official condemnation of the shameful and cowardly attacks the South African Government should fish out the culprits and prosecute them. In addition to the payment of adequate compensation to all the victims of the mindless attacks the Government must teach South Africans about the immense contributions of the people of Cuba and a number of African countries to the struggle waged against apartheid and colonialism in the Southern African region.

However, since the Cyril Ramaphosa administration is not likely to accede to the demand for compensation the federal government should brief a team of lawyers to seek legal redress for the victims of the attacks in South African courts. The Nigerian High Commission in Pretoria should be directed to coordinate the legal defence. In view of the regular harassment of Nigerians in South Africa and a few other African countries the federal government should make the Declaration to enable individual victims of human rights abuse to access the African Court on Human and Peoples Rights sitting in Arusha, Tanzania.

Since there is no assurance that Nigerians and other Africans will no longer be subjected to xenophobic attacks the federal government should boycott the World Economic Forum scheduled to commence in South Africa on 4 September.

-Femi Falana is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and a human rights fighter

 

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