Amnesty International has blasted Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba for suggesting that Malawians and other immigrants living in the city are criminals.
While addressing the media to mark 100 days in office on 1 December, Mashaba labelled foreign nationals as “criminals” who have hijacked Johannesburg.
But the international organisation has described Mashaba’s comments as “dangerous and divisive” saying the mayor risks inspiring a wave of xenophobic attacks across South Africa.
“His reckless utterances are based on prejudice against migrants. Rather than making comments that risk fanning the flames of xenophobic attacks, the authorities must act to counter stereotypes, eradicate discrimination and foster greater equality in South Africa,” Executive Director of Amnesty International South Africa Sicel’mpilo Shange-Buthane said.
According to Shange-Buthane, Mashaba’s comments also undermine human rights and the bill of rights in South Africa’s constitution which affirm the right of everyone in the country not to be discriminated against.
“As a high-profile politician, Herman Mashaba should avoid making such provocative statements that can cause serious harm in society,” Shange-Buthane said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Amnesty has called on South African authorities to move swiftly to counter such dangerous remarks and make it clear that violence and discrimination against Malawians and other immigrants will not be tolerated.