Violence by refugees condemned – Committee

Chairperson says acts of violence against the police and the clergy undermine refugees’ plight

Committee chairperson condemns violence by refugees

18 November 2019

The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, Adv Bongani Bongo, condemned in the strongest terms the acts of violence by refugees in the Central Methodist Church in Cape Town and outside the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Pretoria.

The acts of violence against the police and the clergy undermine the refugees’ plight and is a clear violation of both the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol that place an obligation on refugees to abide by the laws and regulations of the country they seek asylum from, and respect measures taken for the maintenance of public order.

“The acts of violence undermine the goodwill that has prevailed towards the refugees in the country. While we acknowledge the concerns that the refugees are highlighting, the forceful turn of events diminishes the work that ensures that refugees are treated in accordance with internationally recognised legal standards,” said Adv Bongo.

The committee held various engagements with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Department of Home Affairs during the fifth parliamentary term that are aimed at finding solutions to challenges faced by the refugees in South Africa.

Since its inception, the current committee has committed itself to working with the Department of Home Affairs in alleviating the problems on refugees to ensure that South Africa keeps its legal obligations in relation to refugees.

The democratic South Africa is known for its dialogue approach in overcoming differences, and the government has called on the refugees and all the stakeholders to engage cordially to find everlasting solutions.

The committee calls on all South Africans to engage on the issue of refugees with great care and with a high spirit of Ubuntu and also driven by the fact that South Africa is a member of the United Nations.

The committee also calls on the Department of Home Affairs to ensure that the rights of everyone within the borders of the Republic of South Africa as enshrined in the Constitution and assured under the Refugees Act No. 130 of 1998 and the Immigration Act, are protected and promoted at all times.

Furthermore, the committee urges a collaboration between the UNHCR and the government of South Africa to find solutions to challenges raised by the refugees.      

Issued by MalatswaMolepo, Media Officer, Parliamentary Communications Services, 18 November 2019