SA is not a xenophobic country – Justice Cluster

Ministers say whoever is caught on the wrong side of the law will be dealt with

JCPS Cluster on restoring national stability and calm

10 September 2019

The Justice, Crime Prevention and Security Cluster Ministers are here today to brief and update the nation on the interventions and progress made to address the recent violent incidences that the country has witnessed over the past few days. At the outset, the JCPS Cluster acknowledges the frustration of the communities with regards to the slow pace of resolution of crime that is ravaging our country. At the same time, we want to emphasize that communities must follow the proper channels to voice out their grievances about the crime situation in the country. South Africa is a democratic state that is governed by the rule of law and we expect everyone within our borders to abide by the laws of this country.

We have noted with concern that the incidents of lawlessness have been characterized as xenophobic attacks. The evidence presented to the JCPS Cluster has not shown that foreign nationals are being targeted because of their nationality. On the contrary we are seeing acts of criminality. Whoever is found on the wrong side of the law will be dealt with accordingly. South Africa is not a xenophobic country.

With regards to Gender based violence , the JCPS Cluster has responded to the Presidents  call for action in the following manner.

A committee will be set up by the South African Police Service and the National Prosecution Authority to look at all cold cases which relate to sexual offences and Gender based violence

In addition, SAPS has committed to training more female police officers to deal with victims of crimes against women and children at station level. This will go a long way in ensuring that victims are not subjected to secondary victimisation.  

The Cluster has noted the high level of sexual offences at Institutions of Higher Learning. To address this matter, the minister of police has been tasked to convene all Vice Chancellors to reassess campus security.

Furthermore, Victim support and services will be strengthened. The NPA and SAPS have been instructed to review and update the anti-rape and Sexual Gender based violence policy.

To date Government has in place 92 Sexual offences courts and 11 will be finalised by the end of this financial year, with one opening this weekend in Limpopo. This will ensure that matters which relate top sexual offences are dealt with speedily by the Justice system

Reviewing laws to ensure parole is not granted for people who are convicted and implement stricter bail conditions for alleged sexual offenders.

As the JCPS Cluster we are committed to engaging the affected communities to find lasting solutions to crime, violence and drug trafficking. We further would like to appeal to the communities to partner with law enforcement agencies and community organisations to make sure that our country is safe, peaceful and prosperous.

The JCPS Cluster has moved swiftly to restore peace and stability in Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane CBDs and KwaZulu-Natal. The following interventions have been implemented immediately:

- Monitoring of the situation and the provision of early warning intelligence is   ongoing to assist with the stabilisation and normalisation of the current situation.

- Assistance was also provided in the identification of suspects resulting in speedy arrests.

- With regards to Intelligence services, we want to assure members of the public that the intelligence agencies are working day and night to detect and prevent the occurrence of these violent incidents and a lot of these have been nipped in the bud across various locations in the affected areas.

- Intelligence-driven investigations are ongoing to identify suspects and ring leaders.

- Over 170 people have been arrested, due to intelligence, we were able to contain violence and criminal acts within the trucking industry including other illegal elements.

- Protests against the hiring of foreign drivers in the logistics and trucking sector mainly affected N2 and N3.  Also routes between Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal were also affected;

- We have renewed our commitment to fighting fraud and corruption within the law enforcement sector as a whole to ensure that those who are responsible are brought to book;

- South Africa is working with embassies from different SADC and all other countries to assist those who want to return to their countries of origin;

- Following threats of violence planned for the 1st and 2nd September 2019 a joint Ministerial team made up of the Ministers of Employment and Labour, Police, Transport and Home Affairs convened an urgent meeting in order to map a way forward. Ministers from the Transport, Labour, Police and Home Affairs Department agreed that the criminal acts of road blockades and burning of trucks and assets amount to economic sabotage threatening the economic viability of the SADC and the region. These acts spearheaded by criminal elements who are also responsible for the intimidation and killing of truck drivers in the sector and region. There has been continuous multi-disciplinary integrated consultations with representatives in the trucking industry as well as with communities through various community structures to bring stability.

- Close to 700 suspects have been arrested some as early as the night of the 1st of September where there were flare-ups of violence in Central Johannesburg took place. The violence that erupted in parts of Johannesburg, Pretoria and Ekurhuleni on Sunday 1st September 2019 has been contained by swift interventions of law enforcements and dialogue with communities living around these areas. The charges for the arrested suspects ranged from public violence, arson, malicious damage to property, theft and possession of stolen property, possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition, attempted murder and murder, business robbery, and contravention of the Gathering Act. Crime Intelligence has been providing ongoing operational support through the submission of early warning reports at both provincial and national level.  This has helped in the containment of planned acts of violence before they can take place.

-vIncidents of violence flared up but quickly dealt with by police around Jeppestown and Hillbrow. Two people died on Sunday bringing the total amount of fatalities to 12, ten of which are South Africans and two are foreign nationals.

Law enforcement will ensure that the authority of the state is not undermined. Any attempt to undermine the authority of the State will be met with severe consequences. An attack on law enforcement authorities is an attack on the State. They will increase and maintain visibility in volatile hotspots. The South African Police Service will continue to act against any acts of lawlessness. 

There will be continuous joint inspections by the different law enforcement agencies countrywide to ensure compliance with the laws of the country.

South Africa is not a xenophobic country. Whoever is found on the wrong side of the law will be dealt with.

Hundreds of foreign nationals took refuge at police stations after coming under attack. 755 such persons are currently housed for safety at DH Williams and Tsholo Community Centres in Katlehong. The number are made up of 527 adults and 228 children. Processes are underway of offering humanitarian assistance as well as to reintegrate them back into the communities.

While there has been a significant decline in the number of incidents police forces remain on high alert and are closely monitoring all hotspots to ensure that further violence does not erupt.

In the first six months of 2019, the Department of Home Affairs has deported more than 10 000 undocumented foreign nationals who were in the country illegally. These deportations happen regularly, following the prescribed legal processes. In the same period we have charged 1048 employers for breaching immigration laws and more than half of these (524) were in Gauteng. With regards to hiring of undocumented foreign nationals, we will clamp down on private business owners who do not abide by the Labour and immigration Laws. Home Affairs, Police and Labour will intensify inspections.

The Department of Home Affairs is preparing to implement the pilot phase Border Management Authority shortly after the Bill has been finalized through Parliament. The BMA will improve the security of our borderline and facilitate easier movement of people and goods through the ports of entry.

The South African government will continue to contribute to the promotion and maintenance of peace and security in Africa; we will increase our participation in conflict resolution, peace-making and peace building at regional and continental levels. As a government we are willing endorse mechanisms which resolve regional and resolve continental conflict.

We appeal to all communities to use proper channels to express their grievances and to protest peacefully. The community protests must not be influenced by criminal elements who distract the communities from expressing genuine grievances.

Misinformation and fake news remains a key area of concern.

We appeal to South Africans to be vigilant in sharing and posting of false messages, videos and pictures that exaggerate the real situation on the ground.

These acts are both illegal and damaging to the reputation of the country and the conduct of its citizens.

In conclusion, the JCPS Cluster would like to extend its sincere condolences to all the families, friends and colleagues of those people who have lost their lives in the recent violence.

Issued by Siphiwe Dlamini on behalf of Department of Defence, 10 September 2019