Govt: Over 5 000 foreign nationals chose to leave

2015-05-17 14:17
Leon Sadiki (City Press)

Leon Sadiki (City Press)

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Johannesburg - A total of 5 645 foreign nationals have voluntarily left South Africa, government said on Sunday.

Malawians formed the bulk of those who chose to leave the country, at 3 506 people.

The remainder were 1 440 Zimbabweans, 682 Mozambicans, and 17 Tanzanians. A total of 418 Mozambicans were also deported back to their home country.

"It has been just over a month since incidents of violence broke out in parts of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng," government said.

"We are satisfied that we have stabilised the situation and further loss of life has been prevented. Security agencies continue to work around the clock to protect both foreign nationals and South African citizens against any attacks. We are maintaining law and order around the country."

Xenophobic violence

Government believed the xenophobic violence had stopped because of the work it and civil society had done in mobilising communities to denounce the violence.

"The inter-ministerial committee on migration continues to do its work to ensure that the underlying socio-economic issues that give rise to tensions between South Africans and foreign nationals are being dealt with," government said.

"We are certain that, in dealing with these issues, we are promoting peaceful co-existence between all the people in South Africa."

Through the social development department, trauma counselling has been provided to over 1 000 immigrants. Ten women with children under the age of one year - three of whom had recently given birth - were flown to their respective countries at their request.

A total of 21 women with children under the age of one year remained in state shelters until they were ready for repatriation.

Operation Fiela

Since the established of the inter-ministerial committee on migration (IMC), government had launched Operation Fiela - Reclaim to address security problems in a "structured and co-ordinated manner", with communities raising concerns of rising levels of lawlessness.

"We are resolute to rid communities of criminals. As government we are going to continue to act decisively and swiftly," it said.

"As the IMC we would like to reiterate that this operation is not targeting law abiding citizens or law abiding foreign nationals. We categorically and publicly denounce that Operation Fiela is targeting foreign nationals."

A total of 3 914 people had been arrested around the country for various crimes including drug possession, human trafficking, and illegally possessing weapons and ammunition.

Of that total, 1 650 were illegal immigrants, and 2 264 were South African citizens.

Violence against foreign nationals

Out of 87 cases involving violence against foreign nationals, 83 have been postponed for further investigation. Four have been finalised, with three of the sentences being a fine of R500 or 10 days in jail, a R3 000 fine or 30 days in jail, and a R3 000 fine or six months in jail.

The four cases were finalised after the accused agreed to a mediation process.

"As government, we realise the importance of a good and sustained relationship with the émigré communities living in our country," it said.

"We welcome the skills that foreign nationals bring, and the contribution they make to our economic life."

However, government was concerned about both South Africans and immigrants running illegal businesses which evaded taxes, brought counterfeit goods into the country and conducted illegal business practises.

At least seven people were killed in April, including three South Africans, when xenophobic violence broke out in parts of KwaZulu-Natal, with the violence later spreading to parts of Gauteng.

Read more on:    durban  |  johannesburg  |  crime  |  xenophobia

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