The lack of action taken by the authorities against vigilante groups that go around demanding that foreign shop owners close their doors, has resulted in impunity and a continuation of the violation of human rights, Amnesty International South Africa said.
Several people were reportedly injured on Monday when clashes broke out between street vendors and members of the Alexandra Dudula Movement, who were allegedly trying to remove foreign shop owners and force them to close their businesses.
“It is astounding that these groups have been allowed to take the law into their own hands and that authorities have not stepped in to stop the harassment of migrants. This did not only start this week, but has been an ongoing problem,” Amnesty International South Africa’s Executive Director Shenilla Mohamed said.
“Police need to take action against these vigilante groups who are violating people’s rights to safety, security, dignity and life, and fueling xenophobia, otherwise the message being sent is that it is acceptable for these illegal operations to continue.”
Amnesty International previously highlighted how past acts of violence, including the killing of foreign nationals during xenophobic violence have gone unpunished, leading to an entrenched culture of impunity.
The Daily Maverick reported that the Alexandra Dudula Movement had stepped up its operations in February when migrant street vendors were driven out of their business stalls. At the time the situation had turned violent when shopkeepers allegedly shot at members of the movement.
Violence erupted again on 7 March, when a large group of members of the Alexandra Dudula Movement protested against the presence of foreign businesses near the Pan Africa Shopping Centre in Alexandra, Johannesburg, and some businesses in the vicinity were forced to shut down.
TimesLive reported that 10 people were injured in the clashes on Monday.
Last week, members of the Operation Dudula group, which consists mainly of residents from Soweto and is separate to the Alexandra Dudula Movement, marched, accusing undocumented foreign nationals of being responsible for the rising levels of crimes in their communities.
For more information or to request an interview, please contact:
Genevieve Quintal, Media and Communications Officer, Amnesty International South Africa: +27 (0)64 890 9224; firstname.lastname@example.org
Amnesty International South Africa office, 97 Oxford Road, Saxonwold, Johannesburg, 2196