EFF: Cabinet minister verbally abused refugees

Durban - The EFF has accused Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini of verbally abusing displaced refugees for accepting aid dished out by the party during a visit to the Isipingo transit camp in KwaZulu-Natal.  

National spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi described Dlamini’s conduct as “unprofessional and petty”.

Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema and a delegation had visited the Isipingo camp, which houses hundreds of foreign nationals displaced by xenophobic violence, on Friday, doling out blankets and mattresses.

“Instead of applauding the charity expressed by EFF, the minister verbally attacked the refugees and scolded them for accepting gifts from the party,” Ndlozi said in a statement.

“This was not done to score political points. The refugees indicated that they did not have mattresses and blankets and that many were sleeping on the floor, including women and children.

Dlamini ‘verbally attacked refugees’

They also reported that they did not have enough food and requested the EFF to assist in the provision of adequate food,” he said.

“Upon our departure, the minister then verbally attacked and scolded the refugees for accepting help from the EFF and chased journalists away from the camp. This conduct by Bathabile Dlamini confirms what the refugees have been saying, that they are dealing with a government of individuals who are hostile, rude and do not treat them with the necessary care.

“One of the refugees decried this by saying that government has put them in a camp to exacerbate the xenophobic treatment they tried to escape from communities they previously lived in.

“The refugees would have accepted the same charity if it were from government or anyone who would have given it to them. Her aggression is misplaced and it stems from the fact that her government has neglected the refugees and left them to be harassed by police and the visit of the EFF has exposed this reality,” Ndlozi added.

“We condemn the minister for her petty, unprofessional and disruptive conduct which only adds fear and suffering in a camp that is already experiencing them in excess. The EFF will never apologise for being of charity and speaking truth to power, even if it is unpalatable.

“The South African ministers have never cared about their own citizens and they must not be trusted that they can care about foreign nationals,” he said.

‘EFF capitalising on plight of foreign nationals’

The Department of Social Development hit back, accusing the EFF of capitalising on the plight of foreign nationals to score political points.

“We need to guard against anyone who wants to use the plight of foreign nationals to score cheap political points and incite violence,” spokesperson Lumka Oliphant said.

“To reduce this tragedy to charity, food and blankets, shows political immaturity and lack of understanding of what is faced by the country. Is the EFF disgruntled because they did not receive the mileage they expected or are they really concerned about the plight of the displaced foreign nationals?” she asked.

“The fact that international migrants are subjected to discrimination and violence should not be used for political point scoring or political voyeurism and political ambulance chasing.

“The EFF has in the past been prone to rush off to areas where people’s lives have been lost or hurt, not because they care deeply about the lives and well-being of people but to score some political points through the exercise of pointing fingers at the ANC government. This is not the time to do so again,” Oliphant added.  

“We must thank the media for reporting in a balanced and responsible way the plight of displaced foreign nationals especially children."

At least seven people have died and thousands were displaced in recent xenophobic violence that flared up in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

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