SAHRC condemns Deputy Police Minister's 'xenophobic' comments

Johannesburg – The South African Human Rights’ Commission (SAHRC) on Monday strongly condemned alleged xenophobic comments by Deputy Police Minister Bongani Mkongi, as it has the potential of fuelling anti-immigrant sentiments.

In an interview with EWN in the Hillbrow police station on Friday, Mkongi warned South Africans not to "surrender" the country to foreign nationals.

He said his remarks were not xenophobic as he was speaking the "truth".

"We are surrendering our land and it is not xenophobia to talk truth. We fought for this land from a white minority, we cannot surrender it to the foreign nationals ... we fought for this country not only for us, [but] for the generations of South Africans," Mkongi said.

He alleged that 80% of Hillbrow in Johannesburg was occupied by foreign nationals who prohibited South Africans from living in the area.

In a statement, the SAHRC said Mkongi’s statements could possibly worsen the scourge of violent xenophobic attacks, often directed against fellow Africans, grappling South Africa.

“Not only are the statements factually incorrect, (in that he claims, without evidence to the effect, that “80% of the city is occupied by foreign nationals), they also unjustifiably ascribe crime to foreign nationals as an undifferentiated group,” the statement reads.

“Leaders are expected to constructively shape public debate and social cohesion through evidence-based statements. Repeating stereotypes does not advance the goals of upholding the fundamental rights of all in society.”

Hillbrow is a notoriously crime-ridden area. In February, a three-year-old girl was the only survivor after a man shot and killed five people.

In May, a woman in her mid-20s was brutally stabbed to death by two men who wanted to steal her cell phone.