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Civil society organisations disappointed by failure of Ministry of Police to respond to SAHRC regarding xenophobic statements made by Deputy Minister Mkongi

7 December 2017 Refugee Health & Rights, Xenophobia
Sonke Gender Justice (Sonke), Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) and the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants (CoRMSA) are disappointed by the lack of response from the Minister of Police, Fikile Mbalula, and the Deputy Minister of Police, Bongani Mkongi, to the letter from the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) requesting a response to the allegations and complaints laid against Deputy Minister Mkongi following xenophobic statements he made.

On 14 July 2017, the Deputy Minister of Police, Bongani Mkongi, made xenophobic statements while visiting Hillbrow Police Station in Johannesburg. Among other things, he accused foreign nationals of economic sabotage:

“We fought for this country, not only for us but for generations of South Africans to
live in harmony in a non-racial, non-sexist and prosperous South Africa.” […] 

“How can a city in South Africa be 80% foreign nationals? That is dangerous. South
Africans have surrendered their own city to the foreigners. The nation should discuss that question.” 

“We are surrendering our land […] We fought for this land […] We cannot surrender
it to foreign nationals.” 

On 21 August 2017, Sonke and LHR submitted a complaint to the SAHRC regarding these statements, arguing that they violate the following sections of the Bill of Rights:

  • Section 9, the right to Equality
  • Section 10, the right to Dignity
  • Section 12, the right to Freedom and Security of Person
  • Section 21, the right to Freedom of Movement and Residence

The SAHRC found that there is a prima facie (a fact presumed to be true, unless it is disproved) violation of the rights of the Complainant to human dignity and equality.

Minister Mbalula and Deputy Minister Mkongi had until yesterday, 6 December 2017, to respond to the SAHRC regarding the allegations (timeline of events found here). And yet, they have remained silent on the issue, despite various calls by civil society for decisive action.

To remind the Minsitry of Police: The Chapter Nine institutions – such as the SAHRC –  are independent, and subject only to the Constitution and the law, and they must be impartial and must exercise their powers and perform their functions without fear, favour or prejudice. The Chapter Nine institutions are a voice of the ordinary people living in South Africa. Finally these institutions play a critical role in strengthening our democracy especially with respect to accountability, respect for the rule of law and human rights. The disrespect by the Minister of Police, by failing to respond to the SAHRC by the set deadline is of serious concern to LHR and Sonke as we struggle for social justice in South Africa.

We call on the Ministry of Police to respond to the SAHRC’s letter with urgency, and no later than 31 January 2018. If the Ministry does not abide by the SAHRC’s request by this date, civil society organisations will mobilise and call for the immediate dismissal of the Deputy-Minister.

FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:

  • Sharon Ekambaram, Refugee and Migrant Rights Programme, Lawyers for Human Rights, (011) 339 1960
  • Marlise Richter, Policy Development & Advocacy, Sonke Gender Justice, 082 858 9927
  • Roshan Dadoo, Director, Consortium for Refugees and Migrants, 082 816 2799

 

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