The United Nations says it is deeply concerned about ongoing incidents of violence, intimidation and harassment of foreign nationals in South Africa, including the brutal killing last Wednesday of Zimbabwean immigrant, Elvis Nyathi, in Johannesburg’s Diepsloot township.
In a statement, the acting resident coordinator of the U.N. in South Africa, Dr. Ayodele Odusola, said, “It is deeply worrisome and unfortunate that this is happening in a country with one of the most inclusive Constitutions globally.
“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.”
The United Nations said it is important to note that the government of South Africa has ratified several international human rights and refugee instruments that are also an integral part of national law.
Odusola said, this requires that the human rights of all persons residing in South Africa, regardless of their nationality or immigration status, must be respected.
He said this includes individuals who may be refugees, asylum seekers or stateless persons.
He expressed deep concerns about violence in all its forms, noting that the U.N. 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, said Odusola, 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 … Acts of lawlessness directed at foreign nationals, whether documented or undocumented, could not be tolerated”.
Nyathi was set on fire in Diepsloot by a vigilante group in Diesploot, which claimed that it was looking for criminals.