Media release

Inter-Ministerial Committee on Migration media briefing statement

28 April 2015

28 April 2015

Deputy Ministers           
Directors General
Senior officials
Members of the Media
Ladies and Gentlemen

Good morning, and thank you for honouring our invitation to update the nation on the progress that government is making in restoring peace and order in our communities.


President Jacob Zuma has appointed an Inter-Ministerial Committee on Migration to strengthen and broaden the scope of the work started by Ministers Mahlobo, Gigaba and Nhleko.

The IMC comprises  of the Minister in The Presidency: Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation (Chairperson);  Minister of Police( Deputy Chairperson); Minister of Home Affairs; Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs; Minister of International Relations and Cooperation; Minister of Defence and Military Veterans; Minister of Social Development; Minister of Health; Minister of Basic Education; Minister of State Security; Minister of Justice and Correctional Services; Minister of Small Business Development; Minister of Trade and Industry; and  Minister of Human Settlements. 

The mandate of this IMC has been broaden to deal with all the underlying causes of the tensions between communities and the foreign nationals. Some of the areas to be addressed, is the implementation of our Labour Relations policies as they affect the foreign nationals; the implementation of the laws that govern business licenses; the country‘s border management and generally the country’s migration policies.

In the coming weeks and months the IMC will work with all the affected parties so as to seek a lasting solution to the issues raised by communities and foreign nationals.   

We are happy to indicate that the consultation processes have already begun.


The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) which is the structure for coordinating government’s response to emergencies of this nature has been activated.  It continues to operate on a 24 hour basis to coordinate the plans of the various government departments so as to restore peace and order in communities.

A Technical Committee comprising of the Directors General of all the affected departments provides the critical support on the intensive work that needs to be done in dealing with the root causes of these tensions. These two structures provide the necessary support to the IMC.


On the 22 April the President convened a meeting of stakeholders in South Africa to discuss the country’s migration policy and discuss how various sectors can work with government to promote orderly migration and good relations between citizens and other nationals. 

The meeting was attended by business, sports, trade union movements, arts and sports fraternities, religious leaders, community formations, youth formations, children, disabled person and traditional authorities. 

The participants were unanimous in condemning and rejecting the attacks against foreign national. They further pledged their commitment to work within their constituencies to build social cohesion. They also pledged to support the interventions of government in tackling genuine concerns raised by communities and foreign nationals.


The President also invited the representatives of the foreign nationals residing in South Africa.  Over fifty (50) representatives of the foreign nationals attended the meeting on Friday 24 April. 

All the participants were unanimous in acknowledging and commending government’s efforts to stop the attacks.  The attendees also relayed their experiences in their everyday lives in South Africa.  They committed to work together with South African authorities to address the challenges.  A number of suggestions emerged from these consultations.


Over the past week over seventy seven (77) public engagements were undertaken by the Ministers and Deputy Ministers.  The Executive used these platforms to   listen to the concerns of the communities. They also the condemned the violent acts against foreign nationals.

Provincial government and local municipalities also joined in their respective constituencies in condemning the attacks on foreign nationals.   

The majority of the peace loving South Africans were again unanimous in condemning the acts of criminality perpetrated against the foreign nationals.   They have equally expressed their frustrations on issues such crime, especially drugs, illegal trading and illicit economic activity by some of the foreign nationals.

There were also a number of public condemnations expressed in various marches by South Africans.  Artists have expressed their condemnation using their respective platforms.  South Africans took to the social media to launch campaigns that stops attacks on foreign nationals and pledging solidarity with foreign nationals living in South Africa.


The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) has engaged with African diplomats that are in the country. 

The engagements explained South Africa’s position especially on the government’s interventions to deal with the acts of criminality.   DIRCO further continues engaging other Foreign Missions in South Africa regarding their concerns and queries relating to the wellbeing of their nationals. 

We are reaching out to reassure the global community that South Africa is stable and open for business.


As government we are satisfied that operations on the ground by our law enforcement agencies have equally yielded positive results. Peace and calm has returned in the communities that were affected by violent attacks.

Government is determined to restore and maintain order within our communities. Operation Fiela – Reclaim is an operation to rid our country of illegal weapons, drug dens, prostitution rings and other illegal activities. This operation is a multidisciplinary interdepartmental operation.

Fiela is a Sesotho word for sweep/ ukushanela ngesiZulu.  And that is exactly what we intend to do. We want to sweep our public places clean so that our people can be and feel safe. The focus of Operation is, amongst others, will be on the following crimes:

  • Illicit Drugs
  • Contraband
  • Undocumented migrants
  • Human Trafficking and Prostitution
  • Hijacked and condemned buildings
  • Illegal possession of firearms and ammunition
  • Unlicensed businesses
  • Management of RDP houses
  • Illegal occupation of land
  • Illegal goods and products 

As I speak to you, our law enforcement agencies are deployed on the ground in different parts of the country to ensure that peace and stability is restored.  SAPS is the lead agency in the operation supported by the Provincial and Municipality traffic departments and all the IMC member departments. The President has deployed the South African National Defence Force for specific operations in support of the Police.

Results of Operation Fiela- Reclaim to date:

  • 265 suspects have been arrested and charged in relation to 150 cases of public violence around the country.  
  •  423 suspects wanted in connection with other crimes have been traced.
  • 165 undocumented migrants were arrested. In the process of deporting to their respective countries.
  • Search and Seizure Operations in Mayfair, Johannesburg (24 April 2015): 144 Illegal Immigrants arrested, 200 counterfeit DVD’s confiscated, 80 small bank bags of dagga confiscated, and 2 air rifles.
  • Search and Seizure Operations at Alexandra Cluster Hostel, Johannesburg (22/23 April 2015): 1 suspect arrested for illegally dealing in liquor, 1 suspect for illegal possession of SANDF uniform. The following items were confiscated:  12 kilograms of dagga, 1 panga knife, and 1 suspected stolen laptop.
  • Search and Seizure Operations Hillbrow Cluster Wolhuter Hostel (21/22 April 2015): 11 people were arrested for dealing in Liquor, possession of dagga as well as possession of suspected stolen property. 2 people were arrested for negligent handling of firearms. 67 illegal immigrants were arrested
  • Pretoria Central Cluster & Sunnyside Cluster (27 April 2015): 08 illegal immigrants were arrested. 7 fines were issued for contravention of by-laws. 1 stolen vehicle recovered, 02 knives and 24 bags of dagga confiscated.    


We communicated that seven people lost their lives during the recent outbreak of violence were foreign nationals. 

The total number of those who lost their lives is seven.

The following are the names of the deceased persons positively linked to the violent attacks:







Marcus Natas


Petrol bombing in Umlazi

Investigations continue


Muvo (other details unknown)


Attacked by a mob in Chatsworth

Investigations continue


Dava Sabastio


Attacked by a mob in Verulam

Investigation continue


Shaofic Shaof Ul Alam


Gun shot in Plessislaer

A South African male arrested


Thabo Owen Mzobe

South African

Gun shot in Ntuzuma

Two South African males arrested


Ayanda Dlamini

South African

Gun shot in Bekhithemba (Umlazi)

Somali national arrested




South African


Investigations continue


The preliminary investigation reveals that the death of Mozambican citizen Emmanuel Jossias, also known as Emmanuel Sithole, related to an act of criminality and is therefore not included in the table above.

Once again the IMC on behalf of the South African nation extends its deepest condolences to the families of those deceased and wishes those injured a speedy recovery.


The NPA has given priority to the prosecution of cases related to attacks against foreign nationals. Perpetrators of these crimes can expect that prosecutors will ask courts to impose sentences of direct imprisonment.

To ensure speedy prosecutions in these cases, the Department of Justice and the National Prosecution Authority have setup dedicated courts with magistrates, prosecutors and interpreters to address the situation in KZN. As of now the dedicated courts have been put into place in Chatsworth, Umlazi, Ntuzuma, and Durban Magistrate Court.

The South African Police Service has allocated detectives within all provinces to expedite the investigations in cases related to violence against foreign nationals. We are not taking a business as usual approach; we want to ensure that the perpetrators of these vile acts are dealt with as speedily as possible.


Government continues to actively support the displaced foreign nationals at shelters. The Department of Social Development is leading this intervention by providing food, shelter and other necessities. Psycho-social support in the form of trauma counselling and debriefing services have been provided to 812 individuals on site at the shelters. Group discussions have also been held in every site.

The Social Development trauma counselling call centre is operational 24-hours a day. We encourage those who require counselling services to call: 0800 428 428

We have thus far provided 2000 mattresses, food, blankets, dignity packs, baby formula, clothing items to displaced persons at the various shelters. The South African Social Security Agency has established Help Desk to manage any enquiries and complaints from displaced persons at shelters.

The Department of Social Development also conducted an assessment in Kwa-Zulu Natal and Gauteng temporary shelters to establish the immediate needs of women and children.  Pregnant women and people with disabilities have been referred to secure shelters. Retired social workers were also deployed to the temporary shelters to strengthen the psycho- social services.

Reports that some foreign nationals have begun to return to their communities are encouraging.  As the situation continues to stabilize, we call foreign nationals who are still in shelters to work with the departments of COGTA and Community Safety to ensure a smooth reintegration process.  We further urge communities to open their arms to returning foreign nationals and to assist in their reintegration.

As a result of some displaced persons returning to their communities, the Elsburg Shelter was officially closed on 23 April 2015.  Those who were not yet ready to be reintegrated have been accommodated at the Primrose Shelter.


The Department of Health closely monitors, coordinates and deliver health and medical services to foreign nationals in any area needed as well as at the temporary shelters established.  The following services are being offered to displaced persons at the various shelters:

  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Primary Health Care services at temporary shelters
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Environmental Health Services
  • Health Promotion
  • Forensic Pathology Services
  • Mental Health Services                                                             


The Department of Home Affairs as per their mandate ensures that all persons in South Africa are properly registered.  Those persons who are in the country illegally are either detained for prosecution or deportation.

The Department is currently assisting displaced persons to verify their status.  In cases where documents have been lost or stolen during the violence, the department checks the system and reissue the relevant documentation.  

In cases where the displaced persons have no documentation or they are in the country illegally, the department still captures their details.  Their information and fingerprints are captured in order to provide documentation to facilitate their repatriation.  The Department of Home Affairs is working closely with foreign missions in South Africa to facilitate the return home of those who are illegally in South Africa.

Government has also worked closely with the relevant foreign missions in South Africa to ensure the smooth repatriation of those who wish to voluntarily return to their home countries. 

We have thus far repatriated a total of 1 997 undocumented migrants from both KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng temporary shelters. Breakdown is as follows:

  • Malawi   -  911
  • Mozambique -316
  • Zimbabwe  -753 
  • Tanzania - 17  

  The total number of documented persons who are awaiting repatriation is 1507; we will continue to engage with their missions to ensure a smooth process.


We are unyielding in our commitment to ensure that these shameful attacks against foreign nationals never happen again in our country. We are, therefore, committed to find a lasting solution to the problem.

Through the appointment of an IMC with an all-encompassing focus on issues related to migration, President Zuma has demonstrated government’s commitment to address the underlying causes.

We believe that issues of migration can only be resolved by taking a holistic approach that deals with all issues highlighted by communities. This includes identifying and resolving challenges highlighted by local traders.  

The IMC working with Department of Home Affairs will address the challenges around migration.  The Ministry of Small Business Development has also been tasked with identifying the issues that are relevant to small business.

The consultations that have been held in the past week, will provide useful resource in seeking to find a lasting solution to the challenges of migration.        


We are encouraged to note that even with the tragic events of the past weeks, Africans from other countries still consider South Africa a safe place to visit. 

During the month of March, 10 548 people from Ethiopia, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe visited South Africa. From the beginning of April to date, we have welcomed 13 533 people from the same countries.  

We are heartened that our brothers and sisters on the continent still consider our country a multicultural society that welcomes and promotes interaction among people of different backgrounds.

We want to reassure those who have plans to travel to South Africa that our government is in charge. The violence has stopped. We are now working hard to ensure that nobody within the borders of our country is victimised based on their country of origin.


We have noted reports in the media that indicated that we have only had one conviction in the aftermath of the 2008 violence against foreign nationals. We would like to categorically place it on the record that these claims are far from the truth.

The NPA list of serious cases following the 2008 attacks on foreign nationals dated 28 July 2009 indicates, 79 cases recorded led to the convictions.  These included convictions for public violence, robbery, housebreaking and theft, malicious damage to property, murder, assault, intimidation and possession of dangerous weapons.


  • Public violence ranged between 3 and 6 years imprisonment.
  • Robbery   up to 9 years imprisonment were imposed.
  • Housebreaking  up to 9 years,
  • Murder up to 15 years,
  • Assault and malicious injury to property to 4 years and
  • Intimidation up to 5 years imprisonment.
  • 4 instances of rape. Sentences of 15 years, 25 years and life imprisonment were imposed in these 4 cases.


The outpouring of love and support to foreign nationals as well as condemnation of these attacks bears out our view that the majority of South Africans are not xenophobic.

We encourage our communities to continue to work with government to ensure that there is a lasting peace. You can be part of the solution by saying no to violence and reporting those who are bent on using violence to destabilise our society to the police.

We urge anyone with information on plans to cause violence or those who have witnessed acts of violence, to contact:  Crime Stop - 086 00 10111 or SAPS Emergency Number - 10111

Ms Phumla Williams, IMC Spokesperson
Cell: 083 501 0139

Issued by: Government Communication and Information System

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