A refugee from Angola found himself behind bars for a crime no worse than “looking foreign”.
According to the Legal Resources Centre (LRC), Jose Lourenco was locked up in Pollsmoor Prison for three months under “the wrong section of the Immigration Act”.
The LRC approached the Muizenberg Magistrates’ Court in Cape Town to ask for his release and he was finally released on Wednesday.
“The LRC were able to assist Jose Lourenco, a refugee from Angola, who was unlawfully detained in Pollmoor prison for three months. He was arrested because he ‘looked foreign’, under the wrong section of the Immigration Act, and detained amongst the general prison population without a warrant for his extended detention being issued after 48 hours, as stipulated by law.
“We approached the Muizenberg Magistrates’ Court to ask for his release. He was released [on Wednesday]. Here he is outside the court with LRC’s Candidate Attorney, Lara Sauerbier.”
The LRC has this week established a website called Xenowatch, which allows the reporting of xenophobia. The reported incidents will then be displayed graphically on the website, live.
The website has, however, not gone live yet.
“Xenowatch allows crowdsourcing of xenophobia-related incidents using free SMS, email, and our website,” the LRC explains.
“For the purposes of Xenowatch, xenophobia is any form of discrimination or violence against people due to their ethnic, linguistic or national background. This includes overt discrimination, threats of violence, and physical violence against people and/or their property. This behavior may be aimed at immigrants or refugees, but it may also target South Africans from other areas of the country, ethnic groups, religions or language groups. Even if such incidents intersect with other forms of crime (such as assaults, looting or violent protests), we would like to hear about them”.