Zuma deploys ministers to tackle xenophobia


Durban – South African President Jacob Zuma has assigned the Home Affairs minister, Police and State Security to work with the KwaZulu-Natal provincial government to arrest the violence and anti-foreigner sentiment that has broken out in some Durban residential areas.

In a statement issued by the presidency on Sunday, it said Zuma had deployed Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba, the Minister of Police, Nathi Nhleko and State Security minister David Mahlobo to the violence-stricken province.

“The President strongly condemns violence against foreign nationals as well as the destruction of property and the looting of shops in Durban and in any part of the Republic,” the presidency said.

“President Zuma has emphasised that the government was addressing the issues that are being raised by citizens nationally, in particular, complaints about illegal and undocumented migrants, the takeover of local shops and other businesses by foreign nationals as well as perceptions that foreign nationals perpetrate crime.

“The Department of Home Affairs which has largely been a governance and administration department, is being re-orientated into a security department and is being prepared to take its rightful place within the Justice and Crime Prevention Cluster. As part of this re-engineering of the Department, 350 South African National Defence Force (SANDF) members are being transferred to the Home Affairs department for deployment to various ports of entry as immigration officials to enhance the capacity to curb illegal migration.

“Furthermore, the SANDF has deployed military personnel along the border line in seven provinces to curb border crime activities and illegal border crossings.

Government is also making progress with establishing a Border Management Agency, which is a single entity that will manage the entire border environment and all ports of entry.

The initiative will go a long way in tackling challenges of illegal and undocumented migrants and will also prevent security threats,’’ Zuma said in the statement.

Zuma pointed out that all spheres of government had also been directed to enforce laws and by-laws to curb the growth of illegal trading and unlicensed shops which appeared to be of concern to citizens throughout the country.

“The government is also introducing more measures to support small businesses so that shopkeepers and other SMMEs in black residential areas that are under pressure can obtain assistance. We urge citizens to allow government to attend to these and other immigration challenges and to not take the law into their own hands,’’ Zuma pleaded.

Government also moved to remind citizens that not all foreign nationals were living in South Africa illegally. “Many foreign nationals have legal status and contribute meaningfully to the economy and the development of our country and also abide by the country’s laws,’’ the president said.

Zuma added that police were working hard to arrest foreign nationals who engaged in criminal activities and many of those arrests and convictions were being announced publicly.

“We reiterate that there can be no justification for attacking foreign nationals. Those who are in the country illegally should be reported to the police and they will be returned to their countries of origin in a lawful manner. Citizens should also provide information to the police if they know of foreign nationals who are engaged in criminal activities. They should not be attacked. We wish to emphasise that police will also take action against all people who engage in violence, including foreign nationals as well if they attack citizens,’’ the president said.

The government would continue to provide support to refugees and asylum seekers as required in terms of international law and the country’s own Constitution which enshrines human rights and dignity, the presidency added.

“We thank all religious leaders, non-governmental organisations and other stakeholders around Durban who are providing humanitarian assistance. We should work together to find a solution to this challenge,’’ Zuma added. – ANA