Press Briefing on Current Migrant attacks
Today we speak with a heavy heart to lament the manner in which the humanness of migrants has been trivialised and all the rights that accrue to humanity has been denied by those who should be protecting them. The hate speech against migrants particularly from leaders of government have landed us in to this mess and untenable position that we find ourselves in today. The failure to respond proactively and even reactively to the attacks on migrants is very disheartening.
The attack on migrants has bordered on the fact that migrants fight against the law enforcement agencies because of the events of the 31st of July 2019 and a November 2018 confrontation and the Sunnyside incident. It is disingenuous to find such fault to the extent of denying migrants police protection because there was a confrontation with law enforcement agencies. Migrants are human beings who do not come to South Africa as angels, they are prone to the frailties of humanity and therefore when they commit crime, they must face the full mighty of the law, without exception like any other criminal.
It is in this regard that we are appalled and ashamed at the happenings which intend to throw away the baby with the wash water, even if there was a grave fault with the migrants, that does not preclude them from receiving police protection including the mere fact that it is not all the migrants that have been involved. The raids on the migrants in their shops were not done with due regard to the law and the rights of migrants. It is our view that any law enforcement activity must be carried out with due regards to the rights of the suspects or anyone such action is aimed at.
The attack, sentiments and government action towards migrants attest to the mood that has been planted into the minds of the people. People are merely reacting to what the leaders have vented on, and therefore the people doing the attacks are mere weapons of the brains behind the attacks. The government is not only failing the migrant community by not stopping the attacks but much so the South African electorate which looks up to government for direction, economic growth and the socio-economic impetus.
It is often easy to make public statements and pass the blame, we are not speaking as an authority that can change things at government level, but we are speaking as dependants of government action at the various tiers of government. We are speaking as concerned citizens, and people living in South Africa as per the provisions of the preamble of the South African Constitution which says, “Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.” Crime concerns us all, we need all forms of
criminality eradicated, as the Diaspora community, various South African CSOs and organisations, we are concerned with self-help, irrespective of the damage that one may have suffered it is indeed only fair to allow the delegated departments of government to deal with the task before them.
We do not want to dwell on the past but it is important to note that the current state of affairs could have been averted working together both government and the community at large, and the messages that preceded the attacks, were very explicit and clear, enough could have been done. From March 2019, the attacks on truck drivers, the looting of trucks in the presence of the police without consequence emboldened the perpetrators. Decisive action must be taken against the perpetrators and those instigating violence. The law must be applied equally to all those within the borders of the country be it native South Africans or migrant communities.
We want to take this opportunity to quell the fears that are arising from social media messages talking about consumables in migrant shops being poisoned. We doubt the existence and genuineness of such a message except that it be another ploy to drive a wedge between migrant communities and the native South Africa. It is deplorable and will not work. The migrant community has resolved not to go after fighting anyone but instead to work with the authorities, in stamping out crime, integrating migrant and native communities for the betterment of all. The incident of the 31st of July 2019, where there was a clash between the migrant community and the police along Jeppe and Delvers, in Jhb CBD is a regrettable occurrence which dents human value despite the grievances thereto.
We want to reiterate that such incidences are not in coherence with the spirit of ubuntu and Africanness. May the attacks on migrants, human dignity and their property be arrested forthwith. We call upon the President of the country to speak decisively on this human atrocity to ensure the spirit of peace and calm prevails across the country.