/ 20 June 2008

Govt: Victims of xenophobia won’t be deported

Foreigners who were affected by recent anti-immigrant violence in South Africa, which left tens of thousands displaced, will not be deported, the home affairs minister said on Friday.

”People affected by the violence and who have sought shelter in any of the centres will not be deported,” Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said in a statement to mark World Refugee Day.

”Where people have lost documents, the Department of Home Affairs will make arrangements to have them replaced as soon as possible,” she said.

Her comments, however, seemed to contradict earlier statements from a government spokesperson, who said the displaced being housed in camps were being identified, and those in South Africa illegally would eventually be deported.

Zimbabwean, Mozambicans, Malawians, Nigerians and other African nationals were attacked in a wave of anti-immigrant violence that erupted last month.

Sixty-two people were killed in the violence, while about 30 000 displaced people have been sheltered in camps set up by government.

At least 21 of those killed were South African, though officials have not provided an explanation for why they were targeted.

The worst of the violence was concentrated around Johannesburg, where foreigners have become targets of complaints by locals about high unemployment and crime levels.

The minister urged communities and organisations to protect South Africans and foreigners from violence.

”South Africa belongs to all who live in it,” she stated. — AFP