Our paralegal journalists, Bricks Mokolo from the Orange Farm Advice Center in Gauteng and Daniel Dibe from the Human Rights Legal Network in North West report that violent protests erupted in their communities at the beginning of this month of September. Unsettled community members attacked foreign owned shops and blocked movement of African foreigners in certain areas of the community.
[“The violent nature of these protests are not xenophobic but are rather Afrophobic says paralegal journalist, Bricks Mokolo”]
The attacks come as a result of a clash that took place in the Pretoria CBD on Tuesday, 27 August, emanating from a confrontation between taxi drivers and Nigerian drug sellers about the illegal selling of drugs to the youth in the streets of Pretoria. The commotion saw a loss of life of a taxi driver and as the protests spread across Gauteng there was an increase in deaths, majority being South Africans.
Back in Orange Farm, Bricks tells us that the local community radio station and police maintained social order by limiting the spread of fake news, which fueled most of the violence and panic from residents. There were reports from parents who were alarmed by the news of their children being abducted from school by foreigners as a form of retaliation. These allegations were dismissed on the weekly Citizen Justice Network slot that airs on Thetha FM. The show also used the opportunity to educate the community about the Constitutional Rights of migrants in South Africa as well as the Declaration by the United Nations (UN) on immigration that informs the immigration laws of South Africa.
Meanwhile in Ventersdorp in the North West, in a nearby village of Boikgutsong where Daniel resides, community members were concerned about the unrest that had mainly taken place in the taxi rank. He says the clash between African foreign nationals, taxi drivers and the police saw an increase in acts of looting and burning of foreign owned businesses and according to his view this lawlessness and criminality reduces the chance of communities discussing their core issues.
The Afrophobic attacks that have gripped South Africa are a social injustice as they threaten the rights of those who have moved to South Africa for career opportunities, as well as those who have come to seek asylum due to unrest in their home countries. In accordance with the Constitution, The Refugee’s Act of South Africa encourages asylum seekers to enjoy certain rights, such as, the right to not to be detained upon encounter with law enforcement or be confined to refugee camps. It also includes the right to work, access to social services and the liberty to move around as stipulated by the Refugee’s Act and Immigration Act of South Africa. In the United Nations’ declaration that South Africa signed, Act 22 of the Refugee Convention states that, refugees should not be discriminated against because of race, religion or country of origin; they have the right to all basic services and our Constitution and the Bill of Rights comprehensively ensures these rights.
In these times of rampant social injustice, we stand in solidarity with government, civil society and our paralegal journalists to call for order in society by upholding the laws of this country.