Re­marks about for­eign­ers scorned

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

PO­LICE Min­is­ter Fik­ile Mbalula says he has directed his deputy, Bon­gani Mkongi, to cor­rect his (Mkongi’s) re­cent re­marks re­gard­ing the preva­lence of crime and for­eign na­tion­als in Joburg.

“I’ve gone through what he said, and in­deed, that is too rough. I do un­der­stand what he said. He was try­ing to ad­dress a prob­lem in Hill­brow… Do you re­mem­ber what Her­man Mashaba said, and we came down on him? We can­not say that. We must do what the law per­mits,” said Mbalula.

“Those (peo­ple) who are il­le­gal, we must get them out. Those who are here as im­mi­grants, they are fine. They must stay there. We can­not have an at­ti­tude that they are not sup­posed to be here. It is prob­lem­atic and that state­ment (by Mkongi) is re­gret­table,” he added.

Mbalula said he had dis­cussed the mat­ter with Mkongi, and the deputy min­is­ter would be amend­ing his re­marks soon.

“The deputy min­is­ter and I have agreed that he will is­sue a state­ment ex­plain­ing that his com­ments, while they were meant for a good pur­pose, could be mis­used to at­tack our African brothers. That state­ment bor­ders on xeno­pho­bia,” said Mbalula.

On Mon­day, the South African Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion (SAHRC) strongly con­demned the “ir­re­spon­si­ble” ut­ter­ances by Mkongi. While ad­dress­ing con­cerns around crime and hi­jacked build­ings in Joburg on Fri­day, Mkongi re­port­edly said South Africans had sur­ren­dered their city.

“How can a city in South Africa be 80% for­eign na­tional? That is dan­ger­ous. South Africans have sur­ren­dered their own city to the for­eign­ers,” Mkongi was quoted as say­ing.

The SAHRC said such re­marks had the po­ten­tial to fuel anti-im­mi­grant sen­ti­ments and were, in fact, xeno­pho­bic.

“South Africa is al­ready grap­pling with the scourge of vi­o­lent xeno­pho­bic at­tacks, of­ten directed against fel­low African non-na­tion­als. As a fig­ure of author­ity in the De­part­ment of Po­lice – and by ex­ten­sion across so­ci­ety – the deputy min­is­ter is ex­pected to ex­er­cise a great deal of cir­cum­spec­tion in his pub­lic ut­ter­ances. Not only are the state­ments fac­tu­ally in­cor­rect, in that he claims, with­out ev­i­dence to the ef­fect, that 80% of the city is oc­cu­pied by for­eign na­tion­als, they also un­jus­ti­fi­ably as­cribe crime to for­eign na­tion­als as an un­dif­fer­en­ti­ated group.

“Lead­ers are ex­pected to con­struc­tively shape pub­lic de­bate and so­cial co­he­sion through ev­i­dence-based state­ments. Re­peat­ing stereo­types does not ad­vance the goals of uphold­ing the fun­da­men­tal rights of all in so­ci­ety,” said the SAHRC in a state­ment. – ANA

IN BAD TASTE: Bon­gani Mkongi

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