Remarks about foreigners scorned
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