Vlugtelinge in SA ‘is geregtig op Grondwet se beskerming’

South African President Zuma gestures during a news conference in Pretoria

Kaapstad – Vlugtelinge is geregtig op die volle beskerming wat die Grondwet bied en geniet bykans identiese regte as Suid-Afrikaners.

Só het adv. Jacques du Preez, operasionele bestuurder van die F.W. de Klerk-stigting, gister ge­reageer op onlangse uitlatings deur die ANC-LP me. Maggie Maunye oor buitelanders in Suid-Afrika.

Sy het onder meer ná ’n besoek aan ’n vlugtelingsentrum in Maitland gesê sy wonder “of daar nog enigiemand oor is in Somalië” en ook “hoe lank Suid-Afrika nog die instroming van mense gaan duld”.

Haar uitlatings het veral geskok, aangesien dit skaars ’n dag of twee was nadat twee Somaliërs in Delft vermoor is. Maunye het kort daarna om verskoning gevra.

In ’n ontleding oor die regsposisie van vlugtelinge in Suid-Afrika het Du Preez gesê die Grondwet is van toepassing op alle mense wat binne die landsgrense is.

“Hoewel sekere regte (soos om te stem) slegs van toepassing sal wees op sekere groepe mense of begunstigdes, geniet byna almal dieselfde regte, ongeag of hulle Suid-Afrikaanse burgers is.

“Die Grondwet se onderliggende waardes van menswaardigheid, gelykheid, die bevordering van menseregte en vryhede, nie-rassigheid en nie-sekisme is van toepassing op vlugtelinge.

“Wat buitelanders betref, is dit onaanvaarbaar om uitsprake te maak wat kan lei tot die skending van hierdie regte.”

Onlangse studies het gewys werklose Suid-Afrikaners se misnoeë jeens buitelanders wat hulle glo werksgeleenthede kos, is ’n belangrike oorsaak van die mees onlangse xenofobiese aanvalle.

Ander studies het egter volgens Du Preez gewys die meeste buitelanders werk vir hulself.

Volgens hom onderskryf Suid-Afrika die Verenigde Nasies se konvensie oor die status van vlugtelinge en is dus verplig om diegene wat in hul gebied is, te beskerm.

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Xenophobia in South Africa After 1994

A policeman walks past a burning shack after xenophobia attacks in a Johannesburg squatter camp.

A policeman walks past a burning shack after xenophobia attacks in a Johannesburg squatter camp.

Despite a lack of directly comparable data, xenophobia in South Africa is perceived to have significantly increased after the installation of a democratic government in 1994. According to a 2004 study published by the Southern African Migration Project (SAMP):

“The ANC government – in its attempts to overcome the divides of the past and build new forms of social cohesion… embarked on an aggressive and inclusive nation-building project. One unanticipated by-product of this project has been a growth in intolerance towards outsiders… Violence against foreign citizens and African refugees has become increasingly common and communities are divided by hostility and suspicion.”

The study was based on a citizen survey across member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and found South Africans expressing the harshest anti-foreigner sentiment, with 21% of South Africans in favour of a complete ban on entry by foreigners and 64% in favour of strict limitations on the numbers allowed. By contrast, the next-highest proportion of respondents in favour of a total ban on foreigners were in neighbouring Namibia and Botswana, at 10%.

Foreigners and the South African Police Service

A 2004 study by the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) or attitudes among police officers in the Johannesburg area found that 87% of respondents believed that most undocumented immigrants in Johannesburg are involved in crime, despite there being no statistical evidence to substantiate the perception. Such views combined with the vulnerability of illegal aliens led to abuse, including violence and extortion, some analysts argued.

In a March 2007 meeting with home affairs minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula a representative of Burundian refugees in Durban claimed immigrants could not rely on police for protection but instead found police mistreating them, stealing from them and making unfounded allegations that they sell drugs. Two years earlier, at a similar meeting in Johannesburg, Mapisa-Nqakula had admitted that refugees and asylum seekers were mistreated by police with xenophobic attitudes.

Gepos Bon Carolyne Ahiambo Ngara vlugtelinge in Suid-Afrika

Xenophobia in South Africa

everyone-a-foreigner

Xenophobia in South Africa

Prior to 1994 immigrants from elsewhere in Africa faced discrimination and even violence in South Africa, though much of that risk stemmed from the institutionalised racism of the time due to apartheid. After 1994 and democratisation, and contrary to expectations, the incidence of xenophobia increased, Between 2000 and March 2008 at least 67 people died in what were identified as xenophobic attacks. In May 2008 a series of riots left 62 people dead; although 21 of those killed were South African citizens. The attacks were apparently motivated by xenophobia.

Xenophobia in South Africa Before 1994

European immigration

Restrictions on immigration can be traced back to the Union of South Africa, with the different states adopting different policies on foreigners. A prejudice against immigrants from eastern and southern Europe (measured against the welcome of those from western and northern Europe) has been documented. In the Cape Colony the Cape Immigration Act (No 30) of 1906 set as requirement the ability to complete an application form in a European language (including Yiddish) and proof of £20 as visible means of support.

Gepos Bon Carolyne Ahiambo Ngara vlugtelinge in Suid-Afrika

 

Related articles

Rumours of new Xenophobic Attacks in South Africa

South African NGO Lesidi La Batho is helping to build understanding between refugees and the local community.

South African NGO Lesidi La Batho is helping to build understanding between refugees and the local community.

Rumours of new attacks in 2009

In late May 2009, reports emerged regarding a possible resurgence of xenophobic related activity and the organising of attacks in the Western Cape. Reports of threats and secret meetings by local businessmen surfaced in Gugulethu, Khayelitsha and Philippi, Cape Town. Samora Machel in Philippi once again emerging as a flash-point.[55] In Gugulethu, reports emerged of secret meetings by local businessmen discussing ‘what to do about Somali shopkeepers’. The Anti-Eviction Campaign brought these issues to the open by organising a series of anti-xenophobia meetings attempting to find the root cause of the crisis.

Rumours of new attacks in 2010

In 2010 the press carried numerous articles claiming that there would be massive planned xenophobic violence at the end of the 2010 Football World Cup. However this did not happen.

New Attacks in 2012

In July 2012 there were new attacks in parts of Cape Town and in Botshabelo in the Free State.

‘Fortress South Africa’

South Africa’s borders have been remilitarized. According to Christopher McMichael:

“This shared state-corporate project of building up a ‘fortress South Africa’ also reveals a deeply entrenched seam of xenophobia, in which undocumented migrants and refugees from African countries are painted as a security risk akin to terrorism and organised crime. Parliamentary discussions on border security are rife with claims that foreign nationals are attempting to drain social grants and economic opportunities from citizens. The packaging of illegal immigration as a national security threat, which often relies on unsubstantiated claims about the inherent criminality of foreign nationals, provides an official gloss on deeply entrenched governmental xenophobia, in which African immigrants are targets for regular harassment, rounding up and extortion by the police. This normalisation of immigrants as figures of resentment may also fuel outbreaks of xenophobic violence.”

Gepos Bon Carolyne Ahiambo Ngara vlugtelinge in Suid-Afrika

Refugees in South Africa

Refugee camps and reintegration question

South Africa Immigrants Attacks

After being housed in temporary places of safety (including police stations and community halls) for three weeks, those who fled the violence were moved into specially established temporary camps. Conditions in some camps were condemned on the grounds of location and infrastructure,  highlighting their temporary nature.

The South African government initially adopted a policy of quickly reintegrating refugees into the communities they originally fled and subsequently set a deadline in July 2008, by which time refugees would be expected to return to their communities or countries of origin. After an apparent policy shift the government vowed that there would be no forced reintegration of refugees and that the victims would not be deported, even if they were found to be illegal immigrants.

In May 2009, one year after the attacks, the City of Cape Town said it would apply for an eviction order to force 461 remaining refugees to leave two refugee camps in that city.

 Gepos Bon Carolyne Ahiambo Ngara vlugtelinge in Suid-Afrika

Xenophobia in South Africa Before 1994

South African residents showcase a banne

European immigration

Restrictions on immigration can be traced back to the Union of South Africa, with the different states adopting different policies on foreigners. A prejudice against immigrants from eastern and southern Europe (measured against the welcome of those from western and northern Europe) has been documented. In the Cape Colony the Cape Immigration Act (No 30) of 1906 set as requirement the ability to complete an application form in a European language (including Yiddish) and proof of £20 as visible means of support.

Mozambican and Congolese immigrants before 1994

Between 1984 and the end of hostilities in that country an estimated 250 000 to 350 000 Mozambicans fled to South Africa. While never granted refugee status they were technically allowed to settle in the bantustans or black homelands created by the apartheid government. The reality was more varied, with the homeland of Lebowa banning Mozambican settlers outright while Gazankulu welcomed the refugees with support in the form of land and equipment. Those in Gazankulu, however, found themselves confined to the homeland and liable for deportation should they enter South Africa proper, and evidence exists that their hosts denied them access to economic resource.

Unrest and civil war likewise saw large numbers of Congolese immigrate to South Africa, many illegally, in 1993 and 1997. Subsequent studies found indications of xenophobic attitudes towards these refugees, typified by their being denied access to the primary healthcare to which they were technically entitled.

Gepos Bon Carolyne Ahiambo Ngara vlugtelinge in Suid-Afrika

Planting the seeds of tolerance in South Africa through soccer

South African NGO Lesidi La Batho is helping to build understanding between refugees and the local community.

South African NGO Lesidi La Batho is helping to build understanding between refugees and the local community.

PRETORIA, South Africa, 9 August (UNHCR) An asylum-seeker from Zimbabwe and a South African community outreach worker have united to create understanding in a country where xenophobia has sometimes erupted into violence.

Bradley Shonhai, 23, fled Zimbabwe in 2005 after receiving threats because of his membership in a youth group that supported the opposition Movement for Democratic Change party at the college where was studying electronic repairs.

He now is the coach of an all Zimbabwean football team based in Mabopane township that he founded in 2011. Playing allowed him to escape his money daily worries; his odd jobs fixing electrical appliances were never enough to cover expenses.

Sekia Bokaba, 43, is South African and has been working with the NGO Lesidi La Batho Centre (Light to the People) since 2011, helping youths in the township with skills training. A meeting with UNHCR and Nike got Bokaba’s organization interested in launching a sport’s peace project.

Bokaba attended the pick-up games the Zimbabweans played to earn a little money and then asked Shonhai if he would join the peace project.

“Bradley was extremely doubtful. He asked me, ‘why are you doing this for us?'” said Bokaba. But after he explained the goal of promoting tolerance between South African and refugees, Shonhai agreed to be part of it. Next he had to get support from his own community.

“I had to explain to the political, social and community leaders in the township to get their support. They also questioned the reasons behind the project. I told them: ‘Some of them are your neighbours, some rent rooms from you in your yard. Are you going to chase them away?'”

“They had no choice but to accept the project because they realised it was a good thing,” said Bokaba.

Funding comes from the Ninemillion.org campaign, which was created in 2006 by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in partnership with Nike and Microsoft. Since then, numerous partners have supported the campaign. The overall aim is to provide more than nine million refugee youth with improved access to quality education, sport and technology.

Sport can be a powerful tool to strengthen social ties and community networks, and promote ideals of peace, solidarity, non-violence, tolerance and justice. With xenophobia being a major challenge in South Africa, UNHCR, with the support of Ninemillion.org, saw soccer as a means to promote tolerance between refugees and their host communities.

This specific project is being implemented by four NGOs in Gauteng province in South Africa Xaveri Movement, Daveyton Environmental Youth Counsel, Altus Sport and Lesedi La Batho.

While funding is only available for a few months this year, it has enabled Lesedi Le Batho to begin a process of social cohesion in the community. “We hope to continue on this path and maybe get funding from other sources, said Chrisna Groenewald, Lesidi La Batho’s managing director.

Lesedi La Batho hopes to assist the refugee soccer team to become officially registered so they can play other South African teams. On the day of a tournament, the refugee team received a full uniform kit for the first time, including soccer boots.

At the tournament, at the local secondary school, a UNHCR official explained why the refugees are in South Africa. School children nodded as they heard that these people were forced to flee, much like South Africans had to live in exile during the struggle against apartheid.

“If we can plant the seed of tolerance in just one child, then it has all been worth it,” said Groenewald. Behind her Bokiba and Shonhai were heading off to organise a medal presentation.

Gepos Bon Carolyne Ahiambo Ngara vlugtelinge in Suid-Afrika