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Updated: 18.12.2012 15:51
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ZEF Statement

Zumindest für einen Teil der Betroffenen spricht das Statement des Zimbabwe Exil Forums vom 20. Mai 2008, dass wir deswegen in voller Länge wiedergeben; darin werden auch die Vorgeschichte - also die Attacken vor der aktuellen Haßwelle - und die abschätzige Haltung der Behörden ausführlich dargelegt.

ZEF STATEMENT On the recent spate of xenophobia in Gauteng: 27 dead by afternoon 19 May 2008

ZEF deplores as barbaric the continued attacks on the persons and property of foreigners in South Africa that has claimed 27 lives in the last few days.

Those targeted in this systematic and what appear planed assaults have mainly been Zimbabweans. In the last four days, attacks have spread like wild fire to areas like Germiston, Alexandra, Hillbrow, Ekurhuleni in Boksburg, Thembisa, Thokoza and in the Eastrand area in Johannesburg. A month ago, these horrific attacks that have seen some burnt, hacked with knives and stoned to death were carried out in Maopane, Mamelodi, Attridgeville and Soshanguve townships in Pretoria. Perhaps the worst of these cases was in Thembisa where a man died when his head was hacked with a panga. Thousands of immigrants have been hunted down like wild animals. Most of the victims have sustained grievous bodily injuries from the attacks.

There is a pattern to this, and senior government officials who suggest that foreigners are to blame for unemployment, crime and HIV-AIDS do not help the situation, and should be brought to account for their incitement to hatred. Equally responsible are sections of the media that are known to government, and have been writing inflammatory first page editorials against so-called 'aliens'.

Incidents like those described above have left Zimbabweans homeless in South Africa, aside from violations that have ranged from abuse of dignity, privacy, the right not to be discriminated against and safety and security. What is worrying about all this is the lax attitude of the law enforcement agencies. In some instances the police have abrogated their duties to urge those foreigners under attack to 'defend yourself.'

ZEF believes that the police are adequately capacitated to prevent or stop the attacks, and the army should be called in as a last resort.

Two weeks ago, ZEF requested an urgent meeting with the Department of Safety and Security and the Department of Home Affairs, to discuss the way forward and measures towards curbing xenophobia which is fast spiraling out of control. To date ZEF has not received any positive feedback from the aforementioned departments.

ZEF again calls upon the Special Rapporteur on Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights to urgently visit SA and to work with the South African government to improve the lives of those forced into exile from Zimbabwe. Lastly and in the event of a fact finding mission to South Africa failing, ZEF further recommends that the African Commission issues a public statement condemning the treatment of Zimbabweans in South Africa, as evidence abounds that the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees in this country is inhumane to say the least.

It is a shame that one of the few bastions of democracy in Africa like SA, whose own nationals benefited from support in countries like Zimbabwe, should have this dark smudge on its human rights record.

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