“Xenophobia” at the hands of police

FILE PICTURE: Members of the police guard an exit at the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court. Picture: Alaister Russell

FILE PICTURE: Members of the police guard an exit at the Palm Ridge Magistrate's Court. Picture: Alaister Russell

More reports of police “xenophobia” have emerged after former Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni’s son was allegedly harassed by officers for being dark-skinned on Saturday.

A Johannesburg resident, who identified herself as Thato, said she had experienced the same brutal treatment at the hands of police in Randburg in 2004 for being “too dark”.

Mboweni’s son, Tumelo, claimed that police officers threatened to arrest and deport him for not having a passport on Saturday. A friend, his mother and younger brother later brought his passport to him and the police released him, according to reports.

Furious about what happened to his son, Mboweni took to Twitter where he said: “I am now g#tvol with the zenophobic police. How many times must my son be arrested for being of dark complexion? Will now abuse my power!”

He added: “… they should arrest all the people in Tzaneen. Darker complexion does not mean non-South African. My foot!! And the white ones?”

Police spokesperson Colonel Noxolo Kweza said she could not comment on the matter, as a report was still being compiled.

SA Human Rights Commission spokesperson Isaac Mangena said the commission had not received any complaints about the incident following the uproar on social networking sites. But he confirmed that the commission was investigating possible xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg, Cape Town and the Eastern Cape.

The country has been plagued by xenophobic attacks, including those in Johannesburg’s Alexandra township in 2008 when 56 immigrants were killed.

Mozambican embassy representative Jose Nascimento previously told The Citizen that Mozambicans here feel that they are victims of xenophobia, and that this is unjustified. “I feel that xenophobia is a different shade of racism,” he said.

The trial of nine Daveyton police officers accused of murdering Mozambican taxi driver Mido Macia begins on May 26 next year. Macia’s murder was described as an act deriving from “xenophobic tendencies” after the accused allegedly handcuffed and dragged him down a street in February.

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