Courts to decide xenos' fate (4.08.08)

Courts to decide xenos' fate (4.08.08)

CHRIS BATHEMBU

JOHANNESBURG – The Johannesburg High Court is to decide on the future of hundreds of displaced foreign nationals across Gauteng.

The court has been asked to intervene following threats by the Gauteng government that it is to embark on the forced reintegration of foreigners back to the townships where they had fled xenophobic attacks earlier this year.

An organisation called the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in SA and Wits Law Clinic said there has been no clear communication from the government as to how it intended to reintegrate foreigners into temporary shelters across the province.

More than 5 000 displaced foreign nationals are being housed at temporary shelters in Glenanda, Rand Airport and Midrand.

The organisations' Duncan Breen said the court was expected to hear the application on Thursday.

The Gauteng government had given itself until the end of July to close down the temporary shelters.

Spokesman Thabo Masebe said residents of the affected areas would have no choice but to accept the foreigners. He said foreigners had as much right as South Africans to live in the townships.

The court will be asked to order government to communicate and implement a comprehensive reintegration strategy that adequately protects the rights of all.

The government will also be ordered to to restore the Rifle Range temporary safe site and refrain from dismantling it until such time as a comprehensive reintegration strategy was in place.

"The lack of communication over the future of the displaced foreign nationals has led to increased anxieties and fears in the camps," said Marivic Garcia-Mall of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

Garcia-Mall said many foreigners have fled traumatic situations in their own countries and sought safety in SA only to be re-traumatised by the recent violence.

In The Citizen

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CSVR is a multi-disciplinary institute that seeks to understand and prevent violence, heal its effects and build sustainable peace at the community, national and regional levels.

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