The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has condemned allegedly xenophobic statements made by Deputy Minister of Police Bongani Mkongi.
Mkongi said: “How can a city in South Africa be 80% foreign national? That is dangerous. South Africans have surrendered their own city to the foreigners.”
He made the comments while addressing concerns around crime and hijacked buildings in Hillbrow, Johannesburg, on Friday.
In a statement released on Monday, the commission said Mkongi’s statements had the potential to fuel anti-immigrant sentiments.
“South Africa is already grappling with the scourge of violent xenophobic attacks, often directed against fellow African non-nationals. As a figure of authority in the department of police – and by extension across society – the deputy minister is expected to exercise a great deal of circumspection in his public utterances.
“Not only are the statements factually incorrect (in that he claims, without evidence to the effect, that “80% of the city is occupied by foreign nationals), they also unjustifiably ascribe crime to foreign nationals as an undifferentiated group,” the commission said.
It called on leaders to exercise caution when addressing the public so as to not instigate xenophobic violence.
“It is concerning that the deputy minister of a department such as the department of police which is expected to play a leading role in combating and preventing xenophobia as well as effective detection, crime prevention and law enforcement, is heard uttering inflammatory statements which are factually incorrect and fail to address community concerns around crime.”