Report back from Derek and Kathleen, who attended the meeting mentioned in the last update:
We have just returned from the “Meeting between Government & Support Institutions on the Xenophobia Attacks in KZN” today at the Elangeni. The meeting was attended by some 80 people ranging from government, churches, NGOs and other religious organisations. The MEC from Housing (Mike Mabuyakulu) chaired the meeting and was assisted by MEC for Safety and Security and MEC for Social Development. Dep Mayor L Naidoo and the speaker from eThekwini also attended.
They started by expressing their gratitude to non-governmental organisations and individuals who provided an immediate response to the crisis.
They presented their position and priorities regarding the crisis, this includes:
- The provincial government has established a technical task team to respond to the crisis.
- Tomorrow (Thursday) the team will be visiting 10 of the sites to do a needs analysis.
- They have committed to providing food and other immediate resources to the sites. The Civil Society Advocacy Programme together with the SAHRC and Dep of Social Development are already coordinating the collection and distribution of food to sites.
- The team is also committed to providing weekly visits from health care workers to the sites and they are aware of the need for trauma counselling.
- The team is aware that there is a need to bring the Dep of Home Affairs on board.
- They are starting a process of registering people at sites. This will be done to facilitate relief assistance and to help those who have lost their identity papers, not to distinguish between those who have legal status and those who do not.
- They will work to reintegrate people back into communities. Where this is not possible, they will work to provide alternative sites that meet acceptable standards.
- They will not repatriate people as a matter of course, nor will they not deport anyone. But they will provide assistance to those who request to return home – this will be done in consultation with embassies.
- The SAPS have arrested 71 people for attacks on foreign nationals and these people will be vigorously prosecuted. More arrests are imminent.
- There will be efforts made to promote community dialogue to facilitate reintegration and more long-term solutions, starting with those communities where violence and intimidation have occurred.
- There is a need for increased and ongoing communication between all those involved in relief efforts.
- There will be ongoing regular meetings between government and non-governmental organisations and individuals who are providing support.
- The eThekwini Municipality’s efforts have been focussed on supporting the various sites at police stations.
Our general sense from the meeting was that the Provincial government is taking this issue very seriously and they are aware of the need for immediate intervention. They also stressed that although they are willing to provide whatever help is necessary, they do not necessarily want to broadcast this, in fear of igniting further attacks against foreign nationals. As a result the communication within departments and with the public has suffered.