The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) has condemned the remarks of the Deputy Minister of Police, Bongani Mkongi, which it said has potential to ignite anti-immigrant sentiments.
Mkongi, on Friday accused foreigners of economic sabotage, hijacking buildings and occupying 80 per cent of buildings in Hillbrow.
The minister said the future president of South Africa could be a foreigner if foreigners continue to dominate the country.
In a reaction, the Commission said the statement was xenophobic and encouraged leaders to refrain from such utterances.
“The SAHRC strongly condemns the irresponsible utterances by the Deputy Minister of Police, Bongani Mkongi.
“The SAHRC is of the view that statements such as this have the potential of fuelling anti-immigrant sentiments and is in fact xenophobic,’’ the Commission in a statement said.
Report says there have been xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals this year in Johannesburg, Pretoria and other parts of the country.
“It is unfortunate that Mkongi said this in such context.
“Not only are the statements factually incorrect, they also unjustifiably ascribe crime to foreign nationals as an undifferentiated group.
“The SAHRC calls on all individuals to exercise caution when addressing the public so as to not instigate xenophobic violence,’’ the commission said.
They encouraged leaders to constructively shape public debate and social cohesion through evidence-based statements.
The SAHRC said repeating stereotypes would not advance the goals of upholding the fundamental rights of all in society.
The SAHRC is currently investigating if the statements by the Police Minister Fikile Mbalula that Zimbabwean ex-soldier are responsible for violent crimes in the country.
Another traditional leader, Goodwill Zwelithini, was investigated after he said foreigners should pack their bags and leave the country and not overcrowd the streets.
The Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba is also being investigated by the SAHRC for accusing undocumented immigrants for crimes in the city.