by TINTSWALO BALOYI
JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – SOME civil society organisations have called on the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) to take action against the government for its alleged failure to address xenophobia.
The Kopanang Africa Against Xenophobia, a broad coalition of the organisations, believes the scourge is institutionalised and fuelling vigilantism.
It has written a memorandum to the SAHRC, coinciding with the annual celebration of Africa Day (May 25).
KAAX and allies in civil society are holding a picket outside the office of the SAHRC.
They noted that it was over ten years since the release of the latter’s report following xenophobic violence 2008.
“Yet xenophobic violence continues to plague our country,” KAAX stated.
“We are aware that many complaints have been lodged providing evidence and information of political leaders who brazenly act in defiance of recommendations as set out in the report that was published in 2009.”
The concerned organisations lamented that the SAHRC conducted hearings into xenophobia in the country in 2018, with representatives from government reporting to the commission under oath, yet the hearings and recommendations were yet to be published or enforced.
Among reports KAAX attributed to SAHRC are the failure by authorities to arrest perpetrators of violence against foreign nationals.
There is also denialism of xenophobia by senior government officials and a culture of impunity when dealing with perpetrators of crimes against migrants.
“As KAAX we are concerned that in 2022 we continue to witness institutionalised xenophobia and fuelling of xenophobic violence that has been mentioned in the reports from the SAHRC with clear recommendation going back to 2009.”
South Africa is tense amid a resurgence of anti-migrant violence.
This is largely blamed on the so-called Operation Dudula and some politicians.
In April this year, a mob burnt to death a Zimbabwean man, Elvis Nyathi, in Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg.
In March, the SAHRC stated the increasing incidences of xenophobic violence and unfair discrimination against foreign-nationals had necessitated the commission to maintain its focus on immigration issues and the rights of foreign nationals.
SAHRC said in recent times, its Northern Cape provincial office had been “inundated” with complaints of persisting victimisation and unwarranted attacks meted out to foreign-nationals by law enforcement agencies and South Africans citizens.
President Cyril Ramaphosa recently said incidents of anti-foreigner sentiment in parts of the country were disturbing and echoed South Africa’s apartheid past.
– CAJ News