Right2Know Gauteng calls on government to immediately STOP ‘raids’ such as the one currently taking place in Thembelihle, Gauteng.
Latest reports from comrades in Thembelihle are that 180 people have been arrested and that the vast majority of them are foreign nationals. The ‘team’ that descended onto Thembelihle consists of regular police, the police tactical response unit, the army and officials from Home Affairs.
As far as we know this is the first time that Home Affairs officials have been ‘deployed’ alongside the police and army and they can be there for only one reason – to ‘check and process’ foreign nationals stopped, questioned, arrested etc.
Our comrades from the Thembelihle Crisis Committee report that foreign nationals (especially Somali shop owners) have come to them to report that the police stole money from their shops while they were being interrogated and their shops searched.
Unlike other areas in Johannesburg, there were no reports of xenophobic attacks in the Thembelihle community in the past weeks. What we now have though is President Zuma using the context of the xenophobic attacks and the presence of ‘illegal immigrants’ in poor communities, as an excuse to send in the police, army and Home Affairs to target foreign nationals and the community of Thembelihle in a heavy-handed and completely unwarranted raid (more like an ‘invasion’).
What is clear is that Thembelihle is being politically targeted due to what has happened there in recent months – the timing of this ‘raid’ is instructive in this regard. The official version of the government (and also of the police) for why they are doing this raid is because they have received information about criminal activities in the area. But one could say that about any area, anywhere in the country (and not only poor communities).
If this raid is simply because of ‘criminal activities’ then why is the army being sent in to ‘help’ the police and why are Home Affairs officials also part of the ‘team’? The official explanation for the deployment of the army was that they are assisting with quelling xenophobic attacks – but there was no such violence in Thembelihle and there still isn’t.
Further, most of those arrested have been foreign nationals – so the message that is thus being sent by the government and the policearmy is that foreign national are criminals. This can only exacerbate tensions and further fuel such dangerous myths. What are Zuma, his government and the police really up to here? There can be little other conclusion other than this raid is political and itself xenophobic and has nothing to do with ‘criminal activities’.
We call on President Zuma, the governmentolice to immediately STOP this raid and all other such ‘raids’. What they are doing is completely unacceptable – we now have a situation where the army are being used for purposes far removed from ‘helping to quell the xenophobic violence’ and carrying out activities for which they have no constitutional or legal basis for doing so.
Source : Right2Know