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Xenophobic arrests and raids in the so called 'multi-pronged Approach'

11 Aug 2019 at 17:14hrs | Views
The Constitution of South Africa enshrines the right to Human dignity, equality of treatment before the law and in the enjoyment of all rights, the freedom and security of the person which includes not to be deprived of a person's freedom arbitrarily or without just cause, nor to be treated in an inhuman or degrading way, the right to privacy which includes not to have their home, person or property searched or possessions seized. All people have a right to just administrative action which is procedurally fair, reasonable and lawful and further that arrested persons must not be compelled to make any confessions or admissions, to be informed of reasons for detention, to choose and to consult with a legal practitioner and to be informed of this right, to conditions of detention that are consistent with human dignity, adequate accommodation, nutrition, medical treatment, to communicate with and be visited by spouse, partner, next of kin, religious counsellor and medical practitioner. To be informed of the charge with sufficient detail to answer to charge, adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense and to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in court.

The above paragraph is a summarized list of rights that have been infringed by the Ministry of Police in the arrest of migrants and the search and seizure including the destruction of property in the operation entitled ‘Okae Molao'.

We have always been very clear that every action either by migrants or natives must be lawful hence we condemned the retaliation by the group when they had an encounter with the police on the 1st of August 2019. The operation of the police had amply time to prepare search warrants and conduct a non-chaotic raid on illegal and illicit goods and those in possession of such, but for the need or desire to show that they have access to the use of force, brut force for that matter and to indiscriminately round up, hit and step on people so rounded up with no defense, and particularly migrants, they targeted migrants with or without documents and arrested them including people on their way to the airport or visiting shoppers and bungled them in cells, to carry double or triple the capacity of each cell including the human resources available to process the arrested people. We heard the Minister of Police intimate that all he wanted was to have them bundled up in buses and sent to wherever they came from, that from a Minister, it has no better description.

We have been very clear about fighting crime and any form of divisive treatment of the people. If the government performs such discrimination it is sad, the seizure of guns at the Medical Centre building has been repeatedly taunted but except the fact that they were taken from a security company which is PSIRA registered and owned by a South African national, and the mere mention of it was to try and raise nerves of people that the migrants in attacking the police were hiding these illegal guns and the Minister intimated to this.

We must say tomorrow interestingly migrants rounded up will appear in court, yet they have been denied access to legal practitioners, they have been denied visitation from relatives including even to be given warm clothes when they were so packed in the cells they could not sleep and there was no adequate bedding for them to sleep or food except three slices of bread and a drink for 24hours. This is against all forms of human dignity that can be accorded a person, and qualifies for the most degrading treatment a person can be exposed to and indeed some of the people arrested are on ARVs, some on various medication requiring special diets and these they were denied, to pack them like sardines begs the question how these people could even use those ablution facilities in the cells when they were so packed? Even murders are treated in a more human way that the purported ‘illegal migrants' because many of them are legally in the country.

One wonders if it does not matter because they are migrants. We must state, that these actions smack of the most extreme hatred and despise of migrants by departments of government which must protect the people. This raid and action was aimed at migrants and it was done in a discriminatory way which had nothing to do with the preservation of the law but putting migrants in their place, which place we wonder what it is because migrants are human beings entitled to all human rights.

We must say we are saddened and appalled at the desire to expose the country to levels of great indignation from the continent and world at large by such an action so unwarranted, and action that cannot be accorded even to animals. The responsible authorities must account for these actions and what the purpose of the court appearance is if the people arrested could not be allowed to consult with legal representatives, is it just to ensure that the 48hour mark is satisfied but with no regard to the substantive value and effect of that 48 hours and all the procedures to be followed.

Many people had their documents torn and destroyed and some have been submitted and are now missing and the arrested people cannot get them because indeed in such chaos this was bound to happen, misplace documents.

We appeal to all communities and the world at large to condemn these actions, it is worse when done to Africans by Africans, we cannot blame racism but Afrophobia a terrible form of xenophobia. We call upon the President of the country to hold to account those behind these actions and the complaints of the traders were even confirmed when the confiscated goods were being resold before the smoke from the nozzle of the gun even fizzled away.

Migrants do not request special treatment, we are aware that we are migrants, but we request the equal treatment and benefit of the law, not to be stripped off every ounce of humanity and treated like subhuman creatures. There is nothing wrong with raids, but should they be done xenophobically, without regard for human rights and procedure, and should migrants be targeted or crime? Migrants after being holed up were even subjected to finger printing screening for criminal offences and we have never heard of police rounding up people to screen them of crime through finger prints or so, as much as it is nothing to resist but the implication is grave and beyond comprehension because it implies a grave statement, what should we expect from ordinary citizens if government behaves in this manner?

Mr President, we hope that your voice will be added to those who desire to see the human race united and standing against all forms of discrimination and inhuman treatment particularly on other African and Asian people.

End of Press Release
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