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Transforming Society

Securing Rights

Restoring Dignity

SAHRC Concerned by Xenophobic Statements of Leaders

Media Statement:

Attention: Editors and Reporters

Monday, 17 July 2017

The South African Human Rights Commission (Commission or SAHRC) strongly condemns the irresponsible utterances by the Deputy Minister of Police, Bongani Mkongi. On Friday the 14th July 2017, the Deputy Minister, while addressing concerns around crime and hijacked buildings in Johannesburg, Hillbrow in particular, was quoted by media as saying that: “How can a city in South Africa be 80% foreign national? That is dangerous. South Africans have surrendered their own city to the foreigners.”

The SAHRC is of the view that statements such as this have the potential of fueling anti-immigrant sentiments and is 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.

The SAHRC calls on all individuals to exercise caution when addressing the public so as to not instigate xenophobic violence.  It is concerning that the Deputy Minister of a Department such as the Department of Police which is expected to play a leading role in combating and preventing xenophobia as well as the effective detection, crime prevention  and law enforcement, is heard uttering inflammatory statements which are factually incorrect and fail to address community concerns around crime.

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.

Ends

Issued by the South African Human Rights Commission

Gushwell Brooks, Communications Co-ordinator, 0826458573, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The South African Human Rights Commission.

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About us

The Human Rights Commission is the national institution established to support constitutional democracy. It is committed to promote respect for, observance of and protection of human rights for everyone without fear or favour.

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