Amnesty International South Africa’s executive director Shenilla Mohamed says that authorities have failed to deal with xenophobic violence and its root causes.
Xenophobia is back in the spotlight after a succession of attacks on foreign nationals in informal settlements in and around Durban, which the mayor has claimed are criminally motivated.
Mohamed says that South African politicians have fueled xenophobic violence with populist rhetoric and is concerned that the upcoming national and provincial elections will lead to more violent attacks on foreign nationals.
“Longstanding criminal justice failures and populist rhetoric are some of the reasons behind the latest round of xenophobic violence against refugees, migrants and asylum seekers in South Africa,” Mohamed said in a statement issued on amnesty.org.
“For many years, South African authorities have largely failed to address past outbreaks of xenophobic crimes that have been seen in the country since at least 2008, including bringing those suspected to be responsible to justice. Political leaders must stop making discriminatory and inflammatory remarks about migrants and foreign nationals especially during their election campaigns ahead of the polls.”
Home Affairs Minister, Siyabonga Cwele; International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Lindiwe Sisulu; and Police Minister, Bheki Cele met with the heads of the diplomatic missions represented in South Africa on Friday. The meetings follow and earlier consultation between stake holders and it is hoped the meetings will lead greater co-operation on issues surrounding immigration in South Africa.
The SAPS and NPA are facing criticism for their failure to bring perpetrators of Xenophobic violence to book.
“South African authorities must ensure effective protection for refugees, migrants and asylum seekers against xenophobic attacks. The government must take concrete steps to hold suspected perpetrators to account. That begins with tackling impunity for past xenophobia-related crimes,” said Mohamed
No arrests have been made in the wake of the violent attacks on foreign nationals in Durban late last month.