Stability returns to South Africa


18 May 2015

Stability has returned to South African and further loss of life following recent xenophobic violence has been prevented, says Jeff Radebe, the minister for performance, monitoring and evaluation in the Presidency.

He was satisfied with the work of the inter-ministerial committee (IMC) on migration to stabilise the country. It has been just over a month violence broke out in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

“The work of the IMC in dealing with all the underlying causes of the tensions between communities and foreign nationals, and the prompt activation of the Natjoints [National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure], as well as the deployment of the security forces to volatile areas, has served as a strong deterrent to potential perpetrators,” Radebe said yesterday.

Speaking about the progress of the work done by the IMC, he said security agencies continued to work around the clock to protect foreign nationals and South African citizens against any attacks.

“We are maintaining law and order around the country. We believe the attacks against foreign nationals have been stopped because of the work done by [the] government and civil society organisations in mobilising communities to denounce the violence, and ensure peace and harmony among all who reside in our country.”

Arrests made

A total of 3 914 people were arrested for various crimes during an operation aimed at addressing security challenges across the country. “It needs to be noted that while 1 650 undocumented migrants were arrested, 2 264 South African citizens were arrested in connection with various crimes.”

Those arrested were held for crimes such as human trafficking, possession of explosives, drug possession, murder, robbery, rape as well as the possession of illegal firearms, housebreaking, and theft as part of Operation Fiela-Reclaim, he said.

Operation Fiela is a multidisciplinary operation by various state entities to stop crime. It deals with illegal weapons, drug dens, prostitution rings and other illegal activities.

“As a country, we are concerned about the safety and well-being of all those who live and work here and we want to ensure that both South Africans and the foreign nationals who live in our midst, are and feel safe,” Radebe said.

He reiterated that the operation was not targeting law-abiding citizens or law- abiding foreign nationals. “The government will never authorise actions that are contrary to our Constitution and the laws of the country.”

Hijacked buildings

The operations were intelligence driven and would continue to target areas, buildings and spaces which were known to be frequented by criminals. In the next weeks and months, the government would accelerate its efforts to take back public buildings that had been hijacked either by foreign nationals or South Africans.

Efforts would also be made, he said, “to rid townships and villages of drugs” such as nyaope, wunga and tik. “We are determined to take back the communities from criminals and to re-assert the authority of the state.”

The IMC would continue working to deal with the underlying socio-economic issues that prompted the tensions between South Africans and foreign nationals.

“Issues of migration management have been the sole responsibility of the Department of Home Affairs. As we move forward, we will be including all of government in developing a new integrated migration policy to address our challenges in a collaborative and integrated manner,” Radebe said.

Stakeholders such as civil society and foreign national organisations would participate in managing migration.

The government welcomed the skills that foreign nationals brought and the contribution they made to the economy, the minister said. “We are, however, concerned about those, both South African and foreigners, who illegally run businesses that are in some cases unlicensed, as well as those who engage in collusion, evade taxes, import counterfeit goods and conduct illegal business practices to the detriment of our economy.”

As part of Operation Fiela, the government would ensure that informal businesses were properly licensed and local government by-laws were effectively implemented.

In addition, Radebe said 5 645 people had been repatriated voluntarily. “The Department of Social Development continues to work closely with other relevant departments, as well as civil society organisations, to provide support to displaced foreign nationals.”