The United Nations in South Africa expressed “grave concerns” about violent attacks on foreign nationals after a Zimbabwean man, Elvis Nyathi, was assaulted and set alight in Diepsloot on Wednesday night.
Acting resident coordinator and head of the United Nations (UN) in South Africa, Ayodele Odusola, said he noted with “great concern” the ongoing incidents of violence, intimidation and harassment against foreign nationals.
“It is deeply worrisome and unfortunate that these attacks are happening in a country with one of the most inclusive constitutions globally,” Odusola said.
“Over the recent past, we have noted with deep concern as movements such as Operation Dudula are illegally forcing people suspected to be undocumented foreign nationals, to show their papers.”
“Our thoughts are with the family of Mr Nyathi and with all of those families affected by similar violence in the recent months,” Odusola added.
Nyathi was reportedly walking home from work when a mob ran through his neighbourhood, chasing a group of people, knocking on doors and demanding to see IDs. The mob allegedly caught Nyathi, tied him up, attacked him and set him alight.
His body was later found in Thubelihle Street, mere metres from his home.
According to Odusola, the South African government has ratified several international human rights and refugee instruments that are an integral part of national law.
“This requires that the human rights of all persons residing in South Africa, regardless of their nationality or immigration status, must be respected.”
Allegations are that there were 11 killings between October and December 2021 in Diepsloot but that only four arrests were made.
Odusola expressed strong concerns about all forms of violence.
“The UN stands by the recent statements by government representatives, opposing actions by the violent protesters and urging people not to take the law into their hands.”
“One example of this includes President Cyril Ramaphosa stating that as a country founded on tolerance, respect for diversity and non-discrimination, we must never allow ourselves to turn against people who come from beyond our borders, and that acts of lawlessness directed at foreign nationals, whether documented or undocumented, could not be tolerated,” he said
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