STATEMENT ON ATTACKS ON FOREIGN NATIONALS AND RELATED MATTERS

Issued by Government Communications, 30 May 2008


The Inter-ministerial Task Team, chaired by Minister for Safety and Security, Charles Nqakula, which deals with the violence against foreign nationals, met in Johannesburg on Thursday, 29 May 2008, to assess progress regarding government’s management of the problems related to the attacks.

From the reports provided by security agencies it is clear that there is relative calm and stability. No incidents were reported during the past 72 hours.

More than one thousand three hundred people have been arrested for crimes related to the attacks throughout the country and are in police custody. The departments responsible for the criminal justice system have established a special mechanism to fast track the prosecution process.

While the situation is returning to normal, government’s immediate concern is attending to the humanitarian needs of the people who have been displaced from their homes, many of whom are currently living in police stations and other public buildings.

In Gauteng the latest count of displaced people in police stations and other public buildings stood at 9 734 as at 28 May 2008. A number of the victims have either voluntarily gone to their home countries or have returned to their communities. Children account for up to 30% of displaced people in various locations. Most adults go to work during the day and return to the shelters at night.

According to the assessment of the joint operations centres set up throughout the country to monitor the situation, the number of foreign nationals directly affected by the attacks only represents a small fraction of the foreign nationals living in south Africa. This confirms that the vast majority of South Africans do not have any problem living with foreign nationals. In a number of affected areas the displaced are being reintegrated back into their communities.

Government has decided to provide temporary shelter for all the displaced people while efforts to reintegrate them back into their communities continue. The temporary shelter will be in the form of small tents that can accommodate up to a maximum of five people. Basic facilities such as toilets, washing places and water will be provided at the shelters.

Land for temporary shelters has been identified in the Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni metropolitan areas. Tents have been procured and will be erected from 31 May 2008. Displaced people will move from the police stations and other public buildings to the temporary shelters from Sunday, 01 June 2008. We call on our communities to welcome the displaced people into the new temporary accommodation, whilst their re-integration is being finalised.

Care and support currently being given to the displaced people will continue at the temporary shelters. The people at the shelters will also have access to healthcare and other social services. There will also be the most basic primary healthcare tent facility.

The Department of Home Affairs will issue a special form of identification to displaced foreign nationals.

Government will continue to work very closely with all affected communities towards the re-integration of foreign nationals back into communities as soon as possible.