News / Opinion

Austil Mathebula
3 minute read
23 Feb 2017
12:32 pm

Onslaught on foreign nationals a crime against humanity

Austil Mathebula

Criminality should not be confused with nationality.

FILE PICTURE: Foreign shop owners load their stock onto a bakkie. (Photo by Gallo Images / Daniel Born).

The Mamelodi Concerned Residents are planning to go on a march against undocumented foreign nationals on Friday.

The organiser of the march, Magoka Leganyane, claims the march is not xenophobic, and further warned that violence against foreign nationals during the protest would not be tolerated. Leganyane said the aim was to get home affairs to deport people who are selling drugs.

If you dismiss their concerns about drugs in South Africa as illegitimate, then you surely haven’t been to Soweto, and most other townships and slums, where a lot of our young brothers and sisters live for nothing but nyaope. Sometimes, out of desperation, the nyaope addicts indulge in what they call bluetootha practice in which an addict uses a syringe to draw blood from the recent injection point of a friend who’s hitting a high, and then injects that blood into himself, so they can supposedly share the high.

That’s doubly terrifying, and there’s no parent who would want their child to go through thatEvery sane parent wants to see their kids succeed – to become doctors, engineers, accountants, business leaders, and everything the good world has to offer.

Human trafficking is another big problem for this country. A 2013 Trafficking in Persons report noted that “South Africa is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. South African citizens and foreign nationals are subjected to human trafficking within the country. Children are trafficked mainly within the country, from poor rural areas to urban centres such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, and Bloemfontein.”

The report further noted that “Nigerian syndicates dominate the commercial sex trade in Hillbrow and other areas, though local criminal rings and street gangs also organise child prostitution; Russian and Bulgarian crime syndicates operate in the Cape Town sex trade and Chinese nationals coordinate the sex trafficking of Asian nationals.”

Now that is scary. You send your child to school, and the next thing some sex trafficker somewhere abducts them to some foreign land – and you never get to see them. It’s a serious crime that shouldn’t only concern those Mamelodi Concerned Residents, but all of us.

The South African government’s law enforcement authorities must start doing their jobs in ensuring that all criminals – South African and foreign – are prosecuted and locked up for these crimes. The authorities must also ensure that all foreign nationals enter the country legally.

However, we need to draw a clear line between crime and nationality, and/or ethnicity. Crime has nothing to do with nationality. We all are victims of crime, including foreign nationals who often have their businesses looted arbitrarily.

We need to understand that even though “Nigerian syndicates dominate the commercial sex trade in Hillbrow and other areas”, as per the findings of the aforementioned report, that doesn’t mean all Nigerians living in South Africa are sex traffickers, or are involved in crime. Same with all foreign nationals: there are good ones (most of them) and then the minority who are involved in crime.

Attacking all foreign-owned shops and looting their shops is purely criminal, and burning them alive as we’ve seen in 2008 is nothing but a crime against humanity.

Senior Content Producer Austil Mathebula

Senior content producer Austil Mathebula