Civil society organisations on the African continent have petitioned the African Union (AU), expressing concern over the recent anti-migrant (xenophobic) attacks that happened in South Africa.
In their letter, the CSOs, 131 in total including seven from Malawi, said they have approached the AU as a body responsible for promoting unity, solidarity, peace, security and stability among African States.
The CSOs have urged the AU to call upon the South African government to take concrete steps to end the attacks, prosecute perpetrators and protect migrants and refugees living in their territory from violations of their human rights, including the right to life.
Reads in part the letter addressed to AU Commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma: “As organisations operating on the African continent, we are particularly concerned about the loss of lives, injuries to persons, damage to private property and the infringement of dignity of migrants and refugees living in South Africa, which are a grave violation of their rights protected under the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights [the African Charter].
“The right to life, not to be subjected to torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and the right to strict equality before the law are guaranteed rights— not dependent on a person’s status in a country.”
The CSOs’ petition, coming ahead of an AU Heads of State and Government Summit in South Africa this weekend, also commented on a statement made by South African President Jacob Zuma during a Freedom Day event in April that Mozambican national Emmanuel Sithole (aka Emmanuel Josias), who was brutally killed during the attacks, was an illegal immigrant using a false name by saying that “the immigration status of foreign nationals who are victims of the attacks in South Africa is irrelevant. South Africa has an obligation to protect all persons within its borders.”
Several countries, including Malawi, repatriated their nationals who were trapped in the xenophobic violence in South Africa.
The anti-immigrants attacks in South Africa started during the first week of April in Durban following alleged remarks by King Goodwill Zwelithini asking the South African government to deport all foreign nationals to give economic power, including jobs, to natives.