The African Diaspora Forum (ADF), an organisation focusing on migrant rights, has slammed the South African Police Service (SAPS) for deliberately targeting migrants under the cover of raiding criminal elements and the government for promoting Afrophobia.
Police moved into the Johannesburg Central Business District to confiscate counterfeit goods but clashes ensued between them and foreign shop owners.
About 600 foreigners were reportedly arrested by the police, with the Home Affairs department checking their immigration status.
Some of these who were arrested are Zimbabweans.
However, the South African government said it will not tolerate such attacks on members of the SAPS when doing their job.
“Cabinet condemns the attacks in the strongest possible terms and has instructed our police and other law enforcement agencies to pursue the suspects without fear or favour…” said Minister in the Presidency, Jackson Mthembu in a statement after a Thursday cabinet meeting.
“Cabinet calls on the law enforcement agencies to continue to enforce the law and act decisively to those who violate the laws of our country. Municipal by-laws must at all times be adhered to and we call on all our municipalities to enforce our municipal by-laws. We remain a law abiding country that will continue to ensure peace, stability and prosperity for its citizens. Cabinet expects all who love or work in South Africa to collaborate with our law enforcement agencies to combat criminal and illegal activities.”
But in an interview with CITE, ADF chairperson, Dr Vusumuzi Sibanda claimed this was the worst government practice of Afrophobia.
“The hatred against Africans is just intense. The shops that were targeted are African shops, you have China Mall, Italian and all the other places that have goods that come into the country illegally but that has not been dealt with. Lots of people were arrested Wednesday, including those carrying identity documents of some sort, either a passport, asylum, ID, they were all picked up and taken to the police station and detained,” he said.
Dr Sibanda noted the immigrants were told police had to verify if their documents were genuine but that was against the country’s Immigration Act.
“Secondly we have a situation where Home Affairs came back at one o’clock Thursday with those documents and said these have been verified. Instead of releasing the people right away, they were still being held,” he argued.
The reason why the migrants were held by the police was for checking their fingerprints for criminal records, which the ADF Chairperson claimed was unheard of in the world.
“Where have you heard that people are held to check fingerprints for a criminal record? So the whole idea is to try and inconvenience the people as much as possible because they cannot keep them closed in so they are looking for an excuse administratively. This is an unjust administrative action,” he quipped.
The ADF chairperson described that whole by police as “wrong and unacceptable.”
“It shows migrants are treated like trash, the whole day these people ate dry bread, some nothing yet are treated like pigs. This is very annoying and is so bad,” Dr Sibanda said.