JOHANNESBURG, July 17 (Xinhua) -- The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) condemned the remarks made by the Deputy Minister of Police, Bongani Mkongi on Monday which they said have a potential to ignite anti-immigrant sentiments.
Mkongi, last Friday accused foreigners of economic sabotage, hijacking buildings and occupying 80 percent of buildings in Hillbrow. He said the future president of South Africa could be a foreigner if foreigners continue to dominate the country.
The Human Rights Commission said the statement is 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 fueling anti-immigrant sentiments and is in fact xenophobic," said the Commission in a statement.
There have been xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals this year in Johannesburg, Pretoria and other parts of the country. The Commission said 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," said the commission.
They encouraged leaders to constructively shape public debate and social cohesion through evidence-based statements. The SAHRC said repeating stereotypes does 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-soldiers are responsible for violent crimes in the country amounts to a hate speech.
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.