The role of South Africa in defending and advancing human rights across Africa has taken centre stage during a panel discussion at the University of the Western Cape.

Deputy Justice Minister John Jeffery is part of the discussion which is hosted by the Dullah Omar institute in partnership with Human Rights Watch.

As thousands of refugees in Cape Town and Pretoria are pleading with government to assist them in leaving the country for safety reasons, the role of South Africa in defending human rights across continent is being fiercely debated at the discussion.

Jeffery  has touched on issues facing foreigners in the country and says government is deeply concerned about the matter and the attack on foreigners but adds its a complex situation.

Some in the audience have also raised concerns about xenophobia and have questioned the panel about what can and is being done  to stop the problem in a country that is battling economically.