Hundreds of foreign nationals have camped outside the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), in Cape Town, for at least two days.
The xenophobic violence that broke out between August and September has since been contained. Diplomatic ties between South Africa and other countries on the continent have been tightened and life has carried on for many who were affected by the violence.
Foreigners camping outside the UN High Commission for Refugees office in Cape Town to convince officials that they fear for their lives and want to leave South Africa @TimesLIVE pic.twitter.com/wBrsWlW8aA
— Esa Alexander (@ezaap) October 10, 2019
Foreign nationals want to go back home
However, a large group of foreign nationals living in Cape Town, say that they have been trying to find ways to return to their respective home countries for days, but their pleas to the UNHCR have fallen on deaf ears.
Speaking to Sunday Times reporter, Esa Alexander, the foreign nationals revealed that they have been forced to sleep outside the High Commission offices, in Wynberg, as a form of protest.
Malachie Bosweli, a refugee from the DRC, lambasted South Africans for putting up a facade of unity and ‘ubuntu’, when it was all a lie.
“We want to leave this country, the government of SA must stop their lies, the thing of Ubuntu is a lie” says DRC Congo refugee Malachie Bosweli protesting outside the UNHCR offices in Cape Town @TimesLIVE pic.twitter.com/zaDX0Zviwn
— Esa Alexander (@ezaap) October 10, 2019
Another refugee, Carine Kavira indicated that she has been trying to leave South Africa for many years. She told the cited publication about how, in 2012, her brother was gunned down by xenophobic rioters.
“South Africans have made it clear that they do not want us in their country. They say we are taking their jobs, our brothers are taking their women. So UNHCR should look for other countries that have compassion for refugees. UNHCR should facilitate that we leave,” she said.
Another refugee, identified as Papy Sukami urged locals to understand that many foreign nationals only migrate to South Africa “for a roof to stay and a place to eat”.
Congo refugee, Papy Sukami camping outside the UNHRC office in Cape Town says “we fear for our lives, we not coming as investors, we are just coming here for a roof to stay and a place to eat” @TimesLIVE pic.twitter.com/5Ryi9SZUbR
— Esa Alexander (@ezaap) October 10, 2019
How can the UNHCR help?
The UNHCR is mandated with the responsibility to “to ensure that everyone has the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, with the option to eventually return home, integrate or resettle”.
“During times of displacement, we provide critical emergency assistance in the form of clean water, sanitation and healthcare, as well as shelter, blankets, household goods and sometimes food. We also arrange transport and assistance packages for people who return home, and income-generating projects for those who resettle,” the organisation notes on its website.
However, thus far, the foreign nationals at the refugee centre in Cape Town say that they have been grossly neglected by officials.
These alert law enforcement officials were quick to sniff out the shoddiness of the ID documents that were presented by Asian nationals who, during a stop-and-search operation, were probed on how they entered our borders.
How did the Asian nationals obtain ID documents?
While there is not much information available on the incident involving these Asian nationals, the video did provide some key details.
From our understanding, a suspicious vehicle, carrying two Asians, was pulled to the side of the road by law enforcement authorities near Langlaagte, in Johannesburg, during an #OkaeMolao stop-and-search operation.
After observing the driver’s license and registration, the alarm bells of the law enforcement officer rang off. Both Asian nationals, a male (believed to be the driver) and female, could barely speak English, and yet they had both presented a form of South African identity documentation.
The male, who relied on his female companion for translations, held a legitimate South African driver’s license. The female, on the other hand, had presented a South African ID smart card.
The law enforcement officer could not wrap his head around how this was possible. He held the Asian couple for further questioning at the Langlaagte SAPS branch, where the two foreign nationals were asked to present documentation that proves they were in South Africa legally.
“We need to verify your documentation if you are [legally] in South Africa. So, we’re going to take you to SAPS here in Langlaagte where we are going to verify everything.
“You need to phone people to bring your documentation to show to us that you are [legally] in South Africa,” the officer said to the couple.
While it is very much possible for foreign nationals — with permanent residency — to obtain a South African driver’s licence and ID card, it was the Asian couple’s responses that raised eyebrows on their status in the country.
Asked how the male managed to obtain a South African ID and driver’s licence, without a passport, the female stated that she did not know.
She further made bizarre claims that the Chinese helped them obtain the ID documents. Realising that they were probably getting themselves into deeper trouble, the couple refused to answer questions.
You can watch the full video below.
Watch: Law enforcement officers probe suspicious Asians
These ones entered South Africa through the back door. pic.twitter.com/RfjLrP0ZRV
— Man’s Not Barry Roux (@AdvBarryRoux) September 26, 2019
Several police officers have been arrested in the wake of a large-scale raid operation which took place in the Johannesburg CBD on Wednesday.
Intensified raids on the inner city, operating under the collaborative banner of Buya Mthetho and Okae Molao, focus on ridding the streets of counterfeit goods, weapons, stolen property and drugs.
The most recent raid, which saw large parts of the CDB placed under lockdown – with no traffic allowed to enter and no shops allowed to open.
Joburg cops strike back after violent attacks
#sapsGP #SAPS led a joint op #OkaeMolao with law enforcement agencies in #JHBCBD yesterday with Provincial Traffic Police and Saturation Unit, the Immigration Officers (@HomeAffairsSA), @sarstax Customs, the @JoburgMPD & clothing brand owners. MEhttps://t.co/3eMBnuwWHa pic.twitter.com/tj7j9X4Oho
— SA Police Service (@SAPoliceService) August 8, 2019
The centre of Johannesburg was effectively converted into a ghost town, with law enforcement agencies sweeping between stores and hijacked buildings.
This was in stark contrast to scenes from the previous week,
which saw a similar raid descend into absolute chaos. Police officers were
attacked by street vendors while attempting to confiscate counterfeit goods.
Petrol bombs and bricks rained down on officers and their vehicles.
City of Johannesburg Mayor, Herman Mashaba, Gauteng Premier, David Makhura and Chief of the Metro Police Department (JMPD) all blamed foreigners for the explosion of violence.
Makhura vowed to avenge the attacked officers, while foreign nationals living in the CBD argued that they were being used as scapegoats for the city’s problems and, in the process, were having their human rights trampled upon.
Joburg raids net illegal firearms, counterfeit goods
Firearms recovered in a building on Rahima Moosa & Delvers Str in the CBD during the Search & Cordon Joint Operation. It’s not yet confirmed who owns the firearms, but arrests have been made.#SaferJoburg #ZeroTolerance@eNCA @SABCNewsOnline@Newzroom405 pic.twitter.com/iPVoLcpURQ
— David Tembe (@AsktheChiefJMPD) August 7, 2019
Wednesday’s retaliatory raids proved fruitful. A stash of illegal firearms and counterfeit
goods were confiscated. Hundreds of undocumented foreigners were taken off the
streets to have their legal status in South Africa investigated. Makhura
praised law enforcement’s efforts, saying:
“We are cleaning up our CBD. We will not rest until we take our City back. We are sending a very strong message to all those who think they can occupy our buildings illegally.”
Unfortunately, despite Makhura’s fervent praise, some police
officers opted to collude with criminal elements in the inner city, thereby jeopardising
law enforcement’s operations in the CBD.
Cops and criminals – not a world apart
According to the South African Police Service (SAPS), at
least five officers were arrested after the raid for allegedly attempting to
sell counterfeit goods confiscated from the CBD. Two more officers were
arrested for allegedly leaking details of the planned raid to counterfeiters in
The arrests add a bitter element to an otherwise successful law
enforcement operation and lend credence to claims of deeply rooted corruption
within the SAPS ranks. This corruption has been blamed for fortifying criminal
elements within the inner city.
Mayor Mashaba has vowed to crack down on all forms of corruption, including those involving police officers.
Gauteng Premier, David Makhura, has condemned the violent, riotous
behaviour, spearheaded by ‘foreign nationals’, which engulfed the Johannesburg
CBD on Thursday.
Johannesburg’s inner city was plunged into chaos on Thursday morning, when law enforcement agencies attempted to confiscate counterfeit goods from informal traders. A joint operation between the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) quickly spiralled out of control when vendors fought back against the raids.
Joburg riots led by foreign nationals, says Makhura
According to Premier Makhura and Chief of the JMPD, David Tembe, foreign nationals operating in the inner-city responded with violence; hurling bricks and petrol bombs at law enforcement officers.
The police raid quickly turned into a full-scale riot. Multiple roads into the city were cordoned off and officers were eventually forced to unleash rubber bullets in an attempt to disperse the ferocious crowd.
Despite the police’s best non-lethal efforts, the angry crowd continued to surge forward. Under severe pressure and “not willing to exercise deadly force”, law enforcement withdrew from the area. According to an official statement issued later that day:
“[Police] tactically withdrew from an intelligence-driven operation targeting counterfeit goods in the Joburg CBD. This came after a violent crowd of foreign nationals attacked police with objects including bricks and petrol bombs.”
Following the wanton lawlessness and vicious attack on
police officers, major stakeholders in the City have lashed out at ‘foreign
nationals’. Makhura vowed to intensify police operations in the city and hold
those responsible for the violence accountable, saying:
“Some foreign nationals who sell counterfeit goods and occupy buildings illegally in the Joburg CBD attacked our police with bottles and petrol bombs. This despicable crime against our state will never be tolerated. Okae Molao will respond in full force to defend rule of law.”
Mashaba demands arrests, says CBD should be ‘closed off’
City of Johannesburg mayor, Herman Mashaba, also voiced his
disdain early on Friday morning, saying:
“I am deeply hurt and devastated to wake up this morning to learn that not a single criminal is arrested after the blatant disregard of our country’s laws yesterday in the Inner City.
I would have expected the city to have been closed off and all criminals behind bars by now.”
Gauteng community safety MEC, Faith Mazibuko, said she too
condemned the attacks, taking specific aim at foreigners, saying:
“We condemn all criminal elements hellbent on undermining the rule of the law in this country and making this country ungovernable.
We can’t co-govern with criminals, especially foreign nationals who want to turn our country into a lawless Banana Republic.”