The rising war against foreigners by Rosettenville residents has raised concerns about the possibility of another xenophobic attack springing up in the country and Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba blames it all on mayor Mashaba.
Rosettenville residents have maintained their war against foreigners insisting they must leave the community while they urge the government to conduct a lifestyle audit on suspected criminals in the suburb.
Rosettenville has remained hot in violence as residents went on a burning spree, destroying homes belonging to foreigners as they urge them to leave their area.
This happened even after the Home affair minister visited the city to quell tensions in areas of the city that have large populations of foreign nationals.
A dozen homes were torched in the Johannesburg south suburb as well as a night club, a brothel and an alleged drug den which were apparently being run by Nigerians. Several residential buildings believed to be housing foreign criminal syndicates and sex workers were burnt down, while a couple of Malawians lost their lives in the process.
Though the genesis of the violence can be traced back to a housing dispute, Gigaba believes comments made by Mashaba at the end of last year could have sparked the community to take the law into their own hands.
Mashaba has been under fire since December last year after he made comments about the scourge of illegal immigrants in Johannesburg.
“These illegal immigrants got here criminally and should be treated as such,” he said, while briefing the media after his first 100 days in office. “You see, for me, when I call these criminals criminals, I want them to understand they are criminals,” Mashaba continued.
Speaking before the walk out in Yeoville and Hillbrow, Gigaba lamented Mashaba’s comments about evacuating ‘illegal immigrants’ without mentioning the mayor by his name.
“It could very well make one unpopular to say irresponsible statements that could incite vigilantism. Leaders have a responsibility at all times to be measured and consider the fact that as a result of what you say, there could be lives lost. There could be property that is destroyed, that property belongs to private individuals and they have invested enormously on the development and maintenance of that property,” he said.
Gigaba was accompanied by a delegation which include Gauteng community safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane and members of the police. The minister planned to speak to foreign nationals and the police planned to conduct searches for valid immigration paperwork.
The minister maintained that government would not allow politicians to compromise its relationship with other African countries.
“Our relations as a country and particularly with our African neighbours, gets affected. It may not mean much to you as a leader, considering that some of your friends could be somewhere very far away, but for us … they [sic] way we treat SADC [Southern African Developmental Community] nationals in our country must be in accordance with our laws and human rights ethos,” Gigaba said.
He added that this does not mean that government is supporting the undocumented migrants, but that they equally don’t deserve to be chased down the street and be called criminals, even when they have not committed any crime to be labeled as messing up Johannesburg.
Mayor Mashaba has, however, maintained his stand against immigrants saying they must leave the country and adding that rules of the city must be upheld and respected.
Insisting he can offer no comfort to those who are uncomfortable by the city’s investigations to root out corruption, the mayor took the first move by sending a task force team to root out foreigners in parts of Rosettenville community.