Bid to protect foreigners

2008-05-13 00:00

Cape Town — The issue of xenophobia in South Africa will come under the spotlight on Friday when the National Assembly holds a debate on a new law that seeks to promote and protect the rights of foreigners in the country.

In a week that saw hundreds of foreigners attacked in a xenophobic frenzy in Alexandra township, outside Johannesburg, Parliamentarians will debate the Refugees Amendment Bill.

Hundreds of foreigners fled Alexandra or sought refuge in the local police station as a spate of violence against foreigners erupted in the township, resulting in one death and about 60 people injured.

The bill will grant authority to the Director-General of Home Affairs to establish a Refugees Appeals Authority (RAA) that would be responsible for the procedures relating to refugee status determination, obligations and rights of asylum seekers.

Both the Standing Committee for Refugee Affairs and the Refugees Appeals Board will be dissolved and their joint duties will be performed by the new RAA, which will submit its report to the minister of Home Affairs, who will then table it before Parliament.

As political parties across the spectrum condemned the attacks, Safety and Security Minister Charles Nqakula said the government is "very worried" about the hotspots of xenophobia around SA.

Nqakula said xenophobic attacks fall into the category of social crime, which is difficult to police with conventional policing methods.

"As government we implore people to desist from that behaviour. Some people who have become victims of violence are permanent residents and it is very, very wrong for people to deal with them in the way they are doing," Nqakula said.

African Christian Democratic Party leader Kenneth Meshoe condemned the violence against foreigners, saying they should be shown kindness and given refuge in the same way that South Africans received kindness from other countries during the struggle against apartheid.

"Most of the foreigners in our country are law-abiding people, as are most South Africans, but there are a few dishonest foreigners, just as there are dishonest South Africans, who have no regard for the law and the rights of others and as a result are involved in criminal activities.

"Foreigners are often accused of taking jobs from locals, but more often they undertake jobs South Africans do not want, or they sell goods on the street, an activity from that no South African is barred from doing …

"Let us give them safe refuge," he said, adding that the ACDP calls on church leaders to get involved as peace-makers and encourage their congregations to extend kindness to strangers.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.