The war of words between Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba and City of Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba over xenophobia seems to be escalating.
Gigaba’s spokesperson, Mayihlome Tshwete, said Mashaba does not seem to understand issues of migration and xenophobia and that his alleged actions to check people’s identity documents was an illegal act, because only police officers and certain Home Affairs officials were trained to do so.
Tshwete added that Mashaba’s utterances that people are dirtying the City and turning it into a jungle were dehumanising foreigners.
Mashaba, however, said xenophobia is a long-standing and deep-rooted problem which the national government has only sought to pay lip service to rather than admitting to and addressing its underlying cause.
He on Monday also reiterated that South Africa “can’t be a jungle”.
“This country requires it to have the rule of law. Our communities out there are crying for help and for anybody to blame me for that is unfortunate. I don’t think anybody can blame me for asking for the rule of law,” the mayor said.
Mashaba also claimed Gigaba had ignored his follow-up letters aimed at finding solutions to xenophobia and undocumented migrants. He alleged Gigaba declined his invitation to attend a recent city lekgotla where these issues were discussed, choosing to rather meet with his predecessor, the ANC Johannesburg regional chairperson Parks Tau.
Tshwete dismissed Mashaba’s accusation, saying the ministry had not received any call from the City of Johannesburg in that regard.
Tshwete also said Mashaba was using undocumented migrants to seek attention in order to avoid other more important problems. He added that Mashaba’s actions were a mere publicity stunt.
But according to Mashaba, his office had consistently made efforts to proactively engage with the minister with the view of implementing joint interventions to the problem of xenophobia and undocumented migrants.
– Additional reporting by eNCA