Solidarity: The Rosslyn Temporary Refugee Camp (Pretoria) attacked By South African Police Services

28 05 2008

28TH MAY 2008 - 20.30HRS

Statement taken by Alvin Anthony from four refugees who do not wish to disclose their identity.

At approximately 18.00 hrs on the 28th May 2008, the South African Police Services came into the camp with white tents and commanded the refugees to move to the Disaster management camp set up by the South African Government.

The Refugees have made it clear on a number of occasions that they do not want to move to the South African Government camp but have requested that they be attended to by the UNHCR and moved to a safer country. Representatives of the refugees at the camp met with the UN representatives today to put forward their request. The UN promised to come back to them tomorrow with feedback after the UN meets with Home Affairs officials.

The refugees refused to move to the South African Government camp. The police then forced the refugees to move into the Disaster management camp. In the mayhem that followed the police fired rubber bullets and a number of people including two babies were injured with shot wounds. All this happened inside the camp. In their aggression the following types of verbal abuse was directed by the police towards the refugees.

“Funkin kwere kwere go back to your country this is our country” This was said by both white and black police.

“Your Women are bitches, this is our country.”

The abuse, shooting and beating continued and many fled to the bush. Others were forced into the disaster management camp which is alongside the camp with the white tents. They are now locked in what is effectively a prison.

An officer with the name Sambo was extremely aggressive with many xenophobic comments.

The police were commanded by a white police officer who gave the order to shoot.

I arrived at the camp at approximately 19.15hrs and was stopped by a group of four or five officers. A white officer asked me to turn back and leave the camp very aggressively and rudely, I refused saying that I have an arrangement to fetch people and I am going to do so. He eventually allowed me to park and fetch the people I had intended to fetch. I then approached him and asked him for his police identity details. He refused to provide me with them. I told him that this was not acceptable and by law he is obligated to identify himself to me if I make such a request,

The four refugees are well known to me.

They feel extremely angry that having borne the trauma the recent of xenophobic attacks with injury, trauma loss of life and property and having to flee to a camp, they have not been subjected to a vicious violent attack by the South African Police Services.

They call for immediate action to be taken against these police and that their call for transfer to a country that provides them with safety be addressed.

Alvin Anthony -

Afrophobia: Only complete reform of economy can defuse tensions

28 05 2008
Cape Times May 28, 2008 Edition 1
Drucilla Cornell, Mahmood Mamdani, and Sampie Terreblanche

We believe that the violence that South Africa has experienced over the last week is systemic in nature and will not end until the underlying causes of economic distress have been dealt with thoroughly.

South Africa is in a state of emergency because of the failure to address desperate poverty and is in urgent need of a mechanism to begin public discussion on how to ensure dignity for all those who live here.

Even by conservative estimates, over 50% of the South African population experiences dire poverty.

Many of the poor live in townships, and for the most part, what is at stake in these townships is a battle for mere survival in unbearable living conditions. The consequence of this poverty has invariably led to the current outpouring of frustration and rage in various South African townships. Read the rest of this entry »

Refugee camps are a mistake - UN

28 05 2008
Note: Lawyers have called the camps unconstitutional, Africans placed there have likened them to concentration camps, and the City of Cape Town is intent on using the Afrophobic attacks as a pretext to forced removal.
By Karen Breytenbach and Anel Powell
May 28 2008 at 08:50AM
Source: IOL

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is willing and able to assist the government in dealing with the mass displacement of refugees, but it has not yet been approached for help.

The organisation also does not agree with Cape Town’s establishment of camps for displaced people.

Arvin Gupta, a senior UNHCR protection officer, said the UNHCR did not agree with the City of Cape Town that those displaced by the violence should be held at camps across the city, but also realised the immediate return to the communities they had to flee from was far from ideal.

Lawyers have said the camps are unconstitutional.

Read the rest of this entry »