Marchers demands action against xenophobic attacks

Protesters want the government intervene to end violence against foreign nationals

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About 100 people affiliated to 15 organisations marched through Cape Town city centre on Monday to protest against ongoing attacks on foreign nationals across the country. Photo: Tariro Washinyira

  • About a hundred people marched to Parliament on Human Rights Day to ask the government to intervene in ongoing xenophobic attacks and campaigns against foreign nationals.
  • The march was organised by the Concerned Citizens of the Western Cape and according to their memo, is endorsed by 15 organisations.
  • The group is calling for the immediate arrest and prosecution of those who use threats and violence against foreign nationals working mostly in the informal sector.

“When the South African government is faced with failure, it diverts attention to immigrants so that we start to fight our brothers who are also facing the same social economic ills,” says activist Nandi Vanqa–Mgijima.

On Monday, Vanqa–Mgijima joined about a hundred people who marched through the streets of Cape Town’s city centre to Parliament to mark Human Rights Day and to ask the government to actively intervene in ongoing xenophobic attacks and campaigns across the country.

In a memo addressed to the African National Congress (ANC), the marchers asked for the immediate arrest and prosecution of leaders and participants in campaigns who are using threats and violence against foreign nationals. They also demanded an assessment of actions by people under the banner of Operation Dudula and losses experienced by informal traders during these recent actions in Johannesburg.

The march was organised by the Concerned Citizens of the Western Cape and according to its the memo, is endorsed by 15 organisations that include the Congolese Civil Society of South Africa, United Family (UniFam), Manenberg Safety Forum, Sisterhood Movement, and the Ubuntu Rural Women and Youth Movement, among others.

The group handed over the memo to Parliament’s senior protection officer Ronwyn Petersen after an hour of waiting for a politician to come out. Officials were given seven days to respond.

A protester from Kivu in the DRC, said she was separated from her family when she fled war in 2009. “I remember returning from school to a chaotic situation and following people coming to South Africa. I applied for asylum and got rejected. My case is on appeal,” she said.

“How can South Africans discriminate against black people? The government doesn’t care about refugees at all,” she said.

Vanqa–Mgijima said, “Killing a fellow African will not get you jobs, good education and a health system. Since 2008 when xenophobia started, thousands are still unemployed and homeless. The answers are not going to come out of violence. We want decent employment and houses. We want Home Affairs to be functional so that we do have undocumented immigrants.”

Wendy Pekeur of the Ubuntu Rural Women and Youth Movement said that farm workers in Robertson and Ceres were currently fighting over jobs they claim are being given to foreign nationals, some of whom are undocumented.

The movement in its statement said, “Home Affairs must get its house in order. They delay issuing documents and people get arrested.”

The joint movement also called for immediate reopening of the Refugee Reception Centres (RROs). Pekeur said this would allow Home Affairs to issue and process documents for asylum seekers and refugees.

TOPICS:  Human Rights Unemployment Xenophobia

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