Refugees Assaulted in South Africa

The South African government has stood on the sidelines and calmly observed the brutalization of thousands of people in Zimbabwe by the cruel dictatorial rule of President Mugabe. Hundreds of thousands have fled a nation in which inflation has hit 2,500% and still is rising while over half the population lacks jobs or food. Thousands have come to South Africa as a refuge from the horror of Zimbabwe, but the South African government has not been that receptive to their presence. A police raid in Johannesburg led to the arrest of 1,500 Zimbabwean refugees. Bishop Paul Verryn condemned the raid and the insensitive behavior of police who battered down doors and caused extensive damage to church facilities.

Verryn noted: “I saw them assault people as they ook them away in vans…One of them(police and emigration officials) “said I am a disgrce to the church for allowing these people to come in.” Reporters for the Mail & Guardian encountered some refugees who suffered physical abuse and were in no shape to even work for a few weeks. Immigration officials insist, the “bottom line, this here is about crime fighting and our service to society.”

South Africans fought for many years to attain their independence and equal rights. People assisted and sheltered African National Congress leaders. But, in the hour of need for Zimbabwe, the government of South Africa has looked the other way.