Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has warned against “political leaders” making dangerous pronouncements about foreign nationals in the country in a statement seemingly aimed at Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba.
Last weekend, violent protests broke out in Rosettenville, Johannesburg, by community members lamenting the alleged criminal activities of foreign nationals in the crime-ridden Joburg suburb.
On Monday, Gigaba and an extensive entourage of government officials embarked on several walkabouts around the city in areas densely populated by foreign nationals, before paying a visit to Rosettenville.
Mashaba has been under fire since December last year after he made comments about the scourge of illegal immigrants in Johannesburg.
“These illegal immigrants got here criminally and should be treated as such,” he said, while briefing media after his first 100 days in office.
“You see, for me, when I call these criminals criminals, I want them to understand they are criminals,” Mashaba continued.
Meanwhile, community members in Yeoville took the opportunity to voice their concerns about criminal activities, allegedly by foreign nationals.
Nelly Williams, a community forum policing leader, showed The Citizen around a popular drinking establishment known as “Times Square”. The small precinct is allegedly home to a drug and prostitution ring.
While briefing media at Yeoville Police Station, Gigaba had stern words for those who wanted to “shut down” borders from neighbouring countries, but was particularly concerned with political leaders making statements against foreign nationals.
“The way we treat SADC nationals in our country must be in accordance with our constitution. That doesn’t mean that if you are an undocumented migrant you deserve to be called a criminal.”
In Rosettenville, residents seemed tense and were agitated by the presence of foreign nationals who were community leaders in the area. At the weekend, several residential buildings believed to be housing foreign criminal syndicates and sex workers were burnt down.