The South African government on Wednesday called for peaceful dialogue with disgruntled foreign nationals seeking protection from possible xenophobic attacks.
The government remains resolute to the peaceful dialogue as the first option of resolving any form of dispute, said Phumla William, Acting Director General of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS).
South Africa is internationally renowned for using dialogue to solve differences and problems, William said.
“As a peace-loving and law-abiding nation, we must use this noble approach to deal with our problems,” said William.
She was speaking after dozens of asylum seekers staged a sit-in at the office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in Cape Town on Tuesday.
The refugees accused the South African government of ignoring their plight, not only in Johannesburg where recent xenophobic attacks occurred but also in Cape Town.
The asylum seekers, mostly from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Burundi, Nigeria, Somalia and Pakistan, asked the UNHCR to help them leave South Africa for fear of xenophobic attacks.
According to William, the Western Cape Refugee and Migrant Forum had distanced itself from this sit-in protest.
South Africans and those within the South African border are expected to adhere to the law and rules of the country, William said.
The government “remains committed to building a society based on democratic values of social justice, human dignity, equality, non-racialism, non-sexism and the advancement of human rights,” said William.
South Africa has a high number of foreign nationals who are integrated into communities across the country and the government calls on all South Africans and foreign nationals to live in harmony, she said.
According to the UNHCR, South Africa hosts about 240,000 foreigners, many of them refugees from other African countries.
South Africa is a signatory to international instruments which have also been incorporated into the country’s domestic law, William said.
These conventions provide the fundamental concepts for refugee protection and are primarily given effect through the Refugees Act, said William.
South Africa has the legal instruments for refugees to exercise their rights, secure protection, and successfully integrate into South African communities, she noted. Enditem