Frightened African nationals in South Africa have been assured of the South African government’s commitment to protecting them as foreign residents in the country.
Acting Government Communication and Information System director general, Phumla Williams, said her “government remains committed to building a society based on democratic values of social justice, human dignity, equality, non-racialism, non-sexism and the advancement of human rights.”
However, foreign nationals from such countries as Burundi, Tanzania and Ethiopia are not convinced of this assurance from a senior government official as they stood in long queues at the Cape Town UNHCR offices on Wednesday, 9 October 2019, to either secure refugee status documents that would enable them apply to the host government for asylum or travel papers to enable them leave South Africa.
According to the foreigners, xenophobic attacks and threats were still prevalent in some parts of the country, especially in the deprived neighbourhoods of Cape Town. A Burundian named Mohammed Nahimana said he has lived in South Africa for nearly ten years, and he has yet to secure a UN or South African official document acknowledging his presence here.
“In the township where we are living, they have burnt my business, and the locals are threatening to rape and kill my sister who lives alone with her four children,” Nahimana said of his existence in the Samora Machel informal settlement, outside Cape Town.
Responding to the Cape Town complaints, Williams said: “We call on all South Africans and foreign nationals to live in harmony as we work together to create a better South Africa and contribute to a better and safer Africa.”
South Africa welcomed all people who are legally in the country and were contributing to its economic development, she said, adding that those within its border were expected to adhere to the law and rules of the country.