A Xenophobic scare has erupted in South Africa after Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba declared war on illegal immigrants challenging the southern African country’s home affairs department to crack the whip on undocumented settlers.
The outspoken Mayor took to micro blogging site twitter to reaffirm his position that illegal immigrants must go, saying no amount of threats will make him back down.
His sentiments come after hundreds have been arrested on various charges and contraband confiscated by the South African Police Services.
“South Afrioca , just imagine what was going to continue happening in our city of Johannesburg had I succumbed to all those guns mobilized to potray me as xenophobic , insulted and called names on daily media platforms. We finally appreciate our desperate voice being heard,” said Mashaba.
Videos circulating on social media show the SAPS forcefully opening vendors shops and seizing goods believed to be counterfeit.
The mayor said a joint operation had led to 30 foreign nationals being arrested.
He vowed to take the “illegal immigration crisis to parliament” and has written to its portforliao committee for an opportunity to present his case.
Mayor Mashaba blamed the home affairs departmen for the chaos in Johannesburg where protestors had running battles with authorities in the central business district last week.
The battles ensued following an operation to crack down on counterfeit goods believed to be peddled by foreign nationals, dubbed operation Molao Okae (Where is the law)
Mashaba said he would ensure that the Department of Home Affairs took responsibility for what happened adding that if South Africa had tight immigration laws the city would not be saddled with the ensuing chaos.
“Unfortunately, we are being let down very badly by home affairs who are creating this messI’m going to hold home affairs accountable to make sure that everyone who is in this country has got the [right] documentation, that we are unapologetic about… they are the ones who created this mess. If our borders were closed, we would not be sitting with this chaos,” he was quoted saying.
Foreign Nationals operating in Johannesburg city centre vendors denounced the authorities’s heavy handedness saying the treatment was equal to gross human rights violation.
They condemned the city’s stance as Xenophobic, demanding fair treatment .
The city is home to tens of thousands of foreign nationals from across the continent, most of them undocumented.
Speaking to SABC last week, Africa Forum Diaspora group Chairperson Dr Vusimuzi Sibanda the authorities needed to stop the human rights abuse.
“There is a complete and blatant abuse of the rights of the people that are here because nobody thinks they are worth protecting,” he said.
He queried the claims that foreign nationals operating within the CBD were there illegally, arguing: “They are referred to, generally, as illegal immigrants. These people have shops here, we can’t have illegal immigrants having all these shops. These people have documents, that’s why they are able to get these shops.”
Story By Prince Sunduzani.