SA Leaders Told Not To Incite Xenophobic Attacks

South Africa has been condemned by human rights activists for not acting decisively against sporadic xenophobic attacks that broke out last week mainly in Polokwane and Durban.

The attacks came a few days after South Africa launched a five-year National Action Plan to combat xenophobia, racism and discrimination.

During a recent campaign rally, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa complained about foreigners who establish businesses in that country without following due process. He said:

Everybody just arrives in our townships and rural areas and set up businesses without licences and permits, we are going to bring this to an end. And those who are operating illegally wherever they come from must now know….

Human Rights Watch southern Africa director Dewa Mavhinga, writing the organisation’s website, said:

To effectively combat xenophobia, the government and police need to publicly acknowledge attacks on foreign nationals and their property as xenophobic and take decisive action.

Inflammatory public statements — such as those made by Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba in December 2016, blaming illegal immigrants for crimes and calling on them to leave the city — should be strongly condemned.

As South Africa prepares for national elections on May 8, 2019, political leaders should not incite xenophobic violence or promote discrimination.

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Dewa Mavhinga

Dewa Mavhinga is the Southern Africa Director with the Africa Division at Human Rights Watch. Read More About Dewa Mavhinga

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