Migrant community leaders‚ civil society organisations and concerned South Africans are to stage a protest outside Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba’s offices on Monday against what they call his “reckless” comments about illegal immigrants.
Mashaba sparked an outcry recently when he stated in his 100 days in office address that illegal foreign nationals living in Johannesburg must be treated as criminals since they had come to South Africa illegally and that that they should leave the city.
The groups planning Monday’s protest under the umbrella of the African Diaspora Forum (ADF) said on Saturday that they believed the comments were dangerous‚ hostile and could incite violence.
“These comments are wholly undesirable‚ given the previous xenophobic incidents in Johannesburg and other parts of the country‚” they stated.
They reminded Mashaba that migrants‚ many of whom were refugees and asylum seekers‚ were part of the people who had built the city that he was now leading and were not all criminals.
“Migrants can contribute positively to the economic growth of the City of Johannesburg as well as South Africa. They want to be part of processes that can grow the economy of the City and South Africa as well. It will be foolhardy for the Mayor’s office to reject them outright.”
The organisations added that given the sad past of the country‚ “we don’t want division in our communities‚ we want unity”.