President Cyril Ramaphosa says reports of police asking foreign nationals who live and work in South Africa to prove their identity in Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg, is unacceptable and reminiscent of Apartheid days.
This after the area was rocked by violence this week rooted in strong anti-foreigner sentiment.
Speaking to the media briefly during his Presidential Imbizo in the Free State, Ramaphosa said: “We cannot accept behaviour like that where people are hunted down in that way and ask questions about their identity. “
He added: “It takes us back to the Apartheid way of doing things, and we are now in a democracy.”
On Friday though, police Minister, Bheki Cele, defended the police’s actions.
“They have a right to stop you and then the onus is on you. They take you to the police station and give you the opportunity for somebody to give your documents,” he said.
SAPS members demanding identity documents from a #Diepsloot community member. It was his Tsonga dialect that got the police suspicious about his citizenship. It was his aunt who convinced the police that he was indeed South African. #SABCNews #OperationDudula pic.twitter.com/cqXJYBtj4U
— Sipho King K Kekana (@KingKAzania) April 8, 2022
Last week, Diepsloot has dominated the news due to the violence that erupted in the area, with local residents accusing foreign nationals of being the perpetrators of crime, culminating in the murder of a Zimbabwean national Elvis Nyathi, who was attacked, killed, and set alight – for not being able to produce Identity Document.
The area is rated No.20 on the national crime statistics in terms of robbery with 52 cases in the last reporting period of October/December 2021 and No.: 13 in terms of attempted murder with 34 cases during the same period.
The local police station is in the top 30 of the highest number of contact crimes in the country recording 630 cases. Some locals are blaming the police for turning a blind eye to the crime in the area.
“We are being killed by criminals here. We are not safe,” says Thabo Dladla who lives in the area.
“Honestly it is hard to tell if the people who are committing crimes are foreigners but the truth is that there is a lot of them without proper papers here and when they commit crimes they can’t be traced. The police are aware of this and are not doing anything about it,” he says.
Ronald Masemola, who is originally from Limpopo, claims he once had to spend the night outside the kids’ shack to protect them after unsuccessful attempts to call the police, following an attempted burglary into the shack.
“My kids stay in the shack next to mine. One evening I was from home and as I was sleeping I heard people trying to break into my kids’ shack. I chased the criminals away and I tried to call the police and they told me they were still busy with another scene somewhere and they never came. I had to spend the night outside that shack to look after my kids. I can’t go home to Limpopo without the kids anymore because it is not safe to leave them behind,” he says.