On June 20 of each year, the world commemorates World Refugee Day. This year’s commemoration marks the 60th Anniversary of the adoption by the OAU 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. On this day we remember the 15 million refugees who have been uprooted from their homes by conflict or persecution.
In particular for Khulumani, we remember the ongoing struggles for justice of those who have sought asylum in South Africa. Many members of Khulumani and their loved ones sought protection in African countries during the struggle. South Africans owe host states in Africa a debt of gratitude for accommodating thousands of South African anti-apartheid activists during the liberation struggle.
In turn we call on fellow South Africans to remember the assistance the coun try received during apartheid and to join us in advocating for justice for African nationals seeking asylum in South Africa. Khulumani is deeply aware of the continuing hardship they experience at the hands of a state that struggles to make its admininstrative services function effectively to handle applications for the formal recognition and regulation of the status of foreign African nationals presently resident in the country. Khulumani memebrs are also deeply aware of the ways in which foreign African national communities are targetted for scapegoating by citizens who face very similar economic challenges.
Khulumani expresses regret at the recent targetting and arson of Somali-owned spaza shops in the poor communities of Port Elizabeth’s townships and elsewhere in the country. In particular Khulumani calls for swift action against the police officers allegedly implicated in the murders of two Somali shopkeepers in Port Elizabeth. Mr Abdullah Mohammed Sheik was allegedly beaten brutally during a raid by nine police officers on the Small Pot Supermarket in Kulati Street, KwaZakhele a few days ago and died of his injuries in police cells. Mr Ali Abdul Omaar was shot dead in the same small supermarket this past Sunday, May 29, 2011, after six men walked into the shop. Khulumani abhors the violence being perpetrated against those seeking protection from violence, conflict and persecution in their countries of origin. We particularly abhor the apparent impliction of police officers in these brutal activities.
We regret the failures of South African authorities to protect vulnerable communities as well as their failures to provide just admininstrative action to everyone in South Africa on an equitable basis.