[DEBATE] : (Fwd) X update: Worthless Joburg, parliament, AfricanRenblahblah
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Tue Jun 3 06:44:58 BST 2008
(Joburg bureaucrats are trying to relocate refugees next to hostels,
must be the same team appealing the High Court decision against Joburg
Water. Courts don't seem impressed.)
Court’s lifeline to foreigners
Borrie la Grange Published:Jun 03, 2008
Bid to block placing xenophobic victims next to hostels
Almost 1700 displaced foreigners in Johannesburg have been prevented
from being moved to a shelter that would have seen them stuck in a
veritable lion’s den — between aggressive hostel dwellers and a dusty
A Johannesburg High Court ruling late yesterday halted the government’s
plans to move the groups from the Jeppe and Cleveland police station to
the disused Kaserne shunting yard south of the city. The court granted
an interim interdict — sought by concerned civil society groups against
the ministers of safety and security, home affairs, provincial and local
government and police.
The groups were to be relocated to the Vickers Road shelter, near the
George Goch and Jeppe hostels, today — where there is no barrier between
the shelter and the hostels across the road.
Instead, they will now stay put at the makeshift shelters where their
safety can be guaranteed, thanks to Lawyers for Human Rights, the
Johannesburg Central Methodist Church and Medecins Sans Frontieres
(Doctors Without Borders).
Bishop Paul Verryn of the Central Methodist Church — representing the
foreigners and civil society groups — said in his affidavit that doctors
from Medecins Sans Frontieres had noted levels of “extreme anxiety and
trauma among the displaced foreigners” who they treated following
xenophobic attacks in which 62 people were killed and thousands displaced.
Verryn and Lawyers for Human Rights argued that hostel dwellers were a
threat to the foreigners’ safety because gunshots had been fired from
the hostels in the direction of the shelter while contractors prepared
the site at the weekend. Hostel dwellers were apparently unhappy about
the shelter being erected and were also not consulted about the plans.
Foreigners at the Jeppe police station told Mary Metcalfe, head of
education at Wits University, that they feared for their lives if they
were to be moved.
“People, especially children, who were under recent attack need to feel
secure while recovering from their trauma. The Vickers Road site is
extremely vulnerable and does not meet the requirements,” Metcalfe told
About 350 primary and pre- school children are currently housed at the
makeshift shelters, which are inadequate.
The respondents were not present at court and their legal team now has
until Friday to oppose the application for the interdict.
2 June 2008
Organisations in court bid to prevent transfer of foreigners
AN URGENT application for an interim interdict to prevent the transfer
of displaced foreigners from the Jeppestown and Cleveland police
stations to a temporary shelter in Vickers Road will be brought in the
Johannesburg High Court toaday afternoon.
Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR), the Johannesburg Central Methodist
Church and Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) was busy finalising papers in
which they would ask the court for an interim interdict pending official
assurance that reasonable steps necessary for the safety of the
displaced foreigners were guaranteed at temporary shelters.
"We are concerned that the displaced foreigners will be placed in a
position of vulnerability if they are relocated to the Vickers Road
shelter as their security will not be guaranteed," Lawyers for Human
The Vickers Road shelter was being constructed on the site of an old
railway station in the area of Kaserne that is directly adjacent to a
The organisation said it had heard reports that hostel dwellers fired
shots at the persons who were tasked with setting up the camp over the
There was no barrier between the Vickers Road shelter and the hostels
--all that separated them was an open road. The foreigners due to be
moved to Vickers Road were housed at the Cleveland and Jeppestown police
stations and were scheduled to be relocated to the Vickers Road shelter
"We need to ensure that they do not face further violations of their
rights and by relocating them to the Vickers Road shelter the state will
not be able to ensure their safety," LHR spokesman Kaajal
Ramjathan-Keogh said. A spokesman for the Gauteng Provincial Government
was not immediately available.
Calls for humanitarian assistance as situation 'gets worse'
June 02, 2008 Edition 2
KAREN BREYTENBACH & REUTERS
THE International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is
calling for urgent and sustained humanitarian assistance for up to 100
000 displaced African migrants in South Africa, because the situation is
International aid agency Oxfam also raised concern yesterday that the
camps at which the government was housing displaced migrants did not
meet minimum standards of humanitarian assistance and protection.
"Adequate water, sanitation and security facilities should have been in
place ahead of relocations. The situation is getting worse, not better,"
said Françoise le Goff, the head of the federation's Zone Office for
Southern Africa in Johannesburg.
"We must make sure that the needs of people forced out of their homes by
these attacks, often with nothing more than the clothes on their backs,
About 62 migrants have been killed since violence against foreigners
erupted across the country early last month. Most of the victims were
Zimbabweans or Mozambicans.
About 32 000 Mozambicans have since returned home, more than 25 000
Zimbabweans have fled, many to Zambia, and the Malawian government is
preparing to receive about 2 500 returning refugees in the coming days,
according to the federation.
The Red Cross is providing emergency assistance to returning refugees at
a transit centre in Beluluane on the outskirts of Maputo, Mozambique,
and in Zimbabwe.
The South African Red Cross Society has sent 150 staff members and
volunteers to help about 30 000 displaced people in more than 30 sites
and temporary shelters in Johannesburg, Pretoria, the Western Cape and
It has also set up a tracing service for missing relatives, in
collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross.
South Africans have donated more than a R7.3 million since the Red Cross
launched a national appeal for funding, and the International Committee
of the Red Cross has given 300 000 Swiss francs from its Disaster
Response Emergency Fund (about R2.2 million) to support its South
John Roche, the Federation's operations co-ordinator for Africa, in
Geneva, said the situation required "immediate action to avoid more
violence and more deaths".
Meeting to discuss plans for displaced refugees
June 02, 2008 Edition 2
Plans to move KwaZulu-Natal refugees out of police stations and other
safe havens will be on the agenda today when representatives of aid
organisations, the police and provincial and local government meet to
discuss the issues of displaced foreigners.
Hundreds of refugees have gathered at police stations since the
xenophobic attacks. The demand on showers and toilet facilities has
caused hygiene problems at some police stations.
Police spokesman Phindile Radebe said some police stations had cordoned
off areas, while others had erected marquees to house the refugees. The
presence of the refugees had not affected the running of police stations.
Those people who wanted to stay in South Africa would be moved from
police stations, she said.
Deputy mayor Logie Naidoo said that a meeting today between the local
and provincial governments, the SAPS and metro police, relief
organisations and religious groups would be held to discuss, among other
things, where the refugees would be moved to.
"We have said to people that they are welcome to stay and that once
things are calm, they can go back to their homes. But some have said
that they want to leave, and so we have been liaising with the
consular-generals and ambassadors of those countries in terms of
logistics," he said.
For those who wanted to return home, Naidoo said the city was arranging
transport for them. Some refugees had said they could not return home,
so he had told them they would be assisted in finding a house in South
Housing MEC Mike Mabuyukhulu would be tasked with co-ordinating such
"We are busy providing ablution facilities, blankets, food and
medication. Now that it seems things are settling down, we can look at
their reintegration into society ... We don't want to disrupt work at
the police stations," he said.
bronwyn.gerretsen at inl.co.za
Tense moments as refugees march on Parliament
Cape Town, South Africa
02 June 2008 01:32
There were a few tense moments on Monday when a crowd of several hundred
refugees marched to Parliament to air their grievances over the recent
After being addressed by, among others, Zackie Achmat of the Treatment
Action Campaign (TAC) and refugee leaders, sections of the crowd surged
towards a small line of police officers outside the main gates of
Parliament's Roeland Street entrance.
The officers had their hands full keeping the chanting crowd at bay for
a while, but the tension eased and the refugees moved back a few metres.
A memorandum was eventually handed over to a government representative
and the crowd began to disperse.
Achmat apologised to the refugees "on behalf of the entire country" for
the attacks meted out on them by mobs in some parts of the country about
two weeks ago.
He lamented the lack of "moral leadership" on the part of government
during the crisis, especially President Thabo Mbeki, Western Cape
Premier Ebrahim Rasool and Cape Town Mayor Helen Zille.
It was necessary now to ensure compensation was provided to the victims,
that the secure reintegration of those who wanted to return to the areas
they were driven from takes place and that assistance was provided to
those wanting to return to their countries of origin, Achmat said.
The refugees made no bones about their desire for United Nations
assistance, with continuous chants of "UN, UN" and dozens of placards
calling for action by the UN High Commission for Refugees. -- Sapa
02 June 2008
Worthless talk fails rebirth of Africa
WE WERE meant to celebrate the African renaissance in KwaZulu-Natal last
week, as we had done for the past 10 years. As it turned out, as the
brothers and sisters from the continent and the US arrived to affirm our
love for each other, our country was making international headlines for
the wrong reasons.
The discomfort must have been palpable as South Africans took every
opportunity to condemn the attacks on foreigners, and to assure our
guests, particularly fellow Africans, that they were as welcome as ever.
Once upon a time, when President Thabo Mbeki was poised to become the
man to save black Africa from itself, the African renaissance conference
attracted the cream of black political and academic brains. Former US
Ambassador to the United Nations Andrew Young and the Rev James Orange,
who walked side by side with Dr Martin Luther King Jnr, were some of the
luminaries we came to associate with the event.
Thanks largely to the tireless efforts and unbridled enthusiasm of
Premier Sibusiso Ndebele, intellectuals have debated and analysed every
conceivable topic over the years. The finest of cuisine has been enjoyed
during the mandatory gala dinners and, as is customary, resolutions have
been taken, and declarations made.
Yet as the African renaissance conference in Durban celebrated 10 years,
and black South Africans attacked foreign black Africans in various
parts of SA, it is tempting to ask if the exercise has been worth it.
Beyond intellectual stimulation and vigorous debate, what has been achieved?
When the first conference was convened, did we envisage being where we
are this year in terms of making a difference in the perception of
Africans of themselves and, importantly, of the international community
of Africans in general, and black South Africans in particular?
Are Africans rediscovering themselves and asserting their self-worth?
Are the many resolutions at conferences, calling for the return of
ubuntu, worth anything?
What shall be the legacy of the annual African renaissance conference
if, 10 years down the line, participants still resolve to implement the
previous years’ resolutions?
What is the point of resolving, this year: “Academics should tap into
existing indigenous knowledge systems rather than using conceptual
frameworks taken from western epistemologies. In this regard, women, as
primary custodians and critical stakeholders in the preservation and
promotion of indigenous knowledge systems, should be prioritised by the
African renaissance initiative through the partnership with various
institutions of learning and the promotion of gender equity"?
And that: “The role of custodians of culture and heritage such as
traditional/royal leaders and family institutions must be promoted, in
order to inculcate cultural and social values in societies."
I remember that in the spirit of this resolution, delegates to the same
conference turned a sod in a village near Durban. The many traditional
healers gathered there were promised that a university to train people
in traditional medicine would be built. That did seem like a step
towards encouraging Africans to look closer to home, rather than at
“conceptual frameworks taken from western epistemologies”.
In my view, the sad events of two weeks ago served to bring into sharp
focus the need to evaluate initiatives meant to make us, as Africans,
understand ourselves better.
I have always understood the African renaissance conference to have
noble and commendable goals. I therefore have to ponder how the
deliberations would have been received in the shack settlements of
Alexandra, Diepsloot, Cato Manor and other places where xenophobic
Would consensus have been that this year we can all walk tall and say we
are better off because we meet every year under the banner of the
African renaissance conference? The cynic in me has serious doubts.
# Madlala is the editor and publisher of UmAfrika.
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