Amnesty slams South Africa over failure to tackle xenophobia

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CAPE TOWN – Amnesty International on Friday in Cape Town slammed the South African Government and Police for not doing enough to protect Somali refugees.

Deprose Muchena, the  Regional Director for Southern Africa, said that six years after a wave of xenophobic violence swept the country, it was inexcusable that South African authorities had not addressed the problem.

The xenophobic attacks in 2008 left more than 60 dead and about 10,000 others displaced and at the time.

The Institute for Race Relations blamed the South African Government and President Thabo Mbeki for the violence.

He said the recent attacks on Somali-owned shops in and around Pretoria’s Mamelodi township could have been prevented.

Muchena said in spite of repeated calls during the attacks, the police were slow to respond and failed to adequately deploy patrols to stop the escalation of violence.

He said in the end, one refugee died, 10 others injured, and 76 shops were burnt and looted.

Muchena said failure to prevent the attacks indicated a failure of political will to tackle the problem.

He stressed that there was an urgent need for a national strategy to prevent violence against refugees and also an end to the impunity which many perpetrators of violence against refugees apparently enjoyed.

Muchena said that the scourge of corruption, mismanagement and lack of proper border controls contributed to create a perfect storm of lawlessness, poverty and unfulfilled expectations which had now erupted into violence. (PANA/NAN)

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