Protect lives of foreign nationals - Zuma

2015-04-14 14:42
A Somali shopowner gets ready to leave his general dealer following looting and violence in Durban. (Jeff Wicks, News24)

A Somali shopowner gets ready to leave his general dealer following looting and violence in Durban. (Jeff Wicks, News24)

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WATCH: Police in standoff with 2 000 people in Durban CBD

2015-04-14 13:38

West Street (Dr Pixley KaSeme Street) in Durban CBD has been closed after a standoff between about 2 000 locals and Pakistani shop owners. Watch. WATCH

Durban - A directive has been issued by President Jacob Zuma to protect all human life, be they foreign nationals or South Africans who may get involved as casualties, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Tuesday.

Gigaba and KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu met with diplomats from Nigeria, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Malawi, to discuss the recent spate of attacks on foreign nationals in KwaZulu-Natal.

The South African government also expressed its regret for the attacks and informed the diplomats what steps government has taken to protect foreign nationals, said Gigaba.

“The president on Friday made an extensive statement around this issue which he followed up by announcing an inter-ministerial committee consisting of the ministers of the home affairs, police and state security.

“The ministers have been mandated to make sure that the violence comes to an end in the country."

Temporary shelter

“The president had clearly indicated to the ministers that we need to protect all human life of foreign nationals.”

“We must also provide those that are displaced with temporary shelter, and... we need to bring the violence to an end,” said Gigaba.

He said the state has been able to detect and pre-empt violence in areas where there have been copycat incidences.

“The president’s directive and what we have told the police officers is that they need to be timely when they are told of incidences of violence. Our priority when the police arrive at the scene is to protect those that are under attack regardless of their status in South Africa, whether they are documented or not.”

Gigaba said the government’s priority was not to verify the status of the people, their documents or to deport them.

“Our priority is to protect life so that people can enjoy life.

Panel of experts

“Obviously under normal circumstances the department of home affairs would go on with its programme in terms of identifying those that are not registered, deporting those that are in the country illegally but that is not our priority at the moment.

Premier Senzo Mnchunu established a panel of experts that would further advise the committee.

“The panel comprises of Navi Pillay and the likes of Comfort Ngidi.

"Its purpose is to advise government on the integration of foreigners into their communities on an ongoing bases. They have been mandated to advise on what to deal with the violence as it happens.”

The government had also been working with the eThekwini metro and meeting with the mayor daily, said Gigaba.

“The city has been able to provide services speedily and we know that there are concerns with the camps but people need to understand that these are temporary shelters that need to be dismantled as soon as the violence levels go down,” said Gigaba, adding that the government was monitoring the situation closely.

He said: “The repatriation of those that want to go home is not the immediate wish of the South African government but in the instance that there are those that want to be repatriated, we will be working with those nationals and the UN to facilitate their repatriation.

“We will assist those that wish to be repatriated and we will issue them with the proper documentation to make sure that they are repatriated safely,” said Gigaba.

Read more on:    malusi gigaba  |  durban  |  looting  |  xenophobia  |  crime

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