The Home Affairs Department says over 500 people, including hundreds of undocumented foreign nationals arrested during a police raid in the Johannesburg CBD, are expected to appear in court on Monday.
On Wednesday police swooped on shops belonging to foreign nationals and confiscated large quantities goods including clothing and sneakers as well as unlicensed firearms and ammunition.
The Police together with the Johannesburg Metro Police have also raided Hillbrow in a sting operation on Saturday. The raid comes after members of the community raised several complaints about escalating crime in the area.
The complaints range from drug trafficking, contravening by-laws and the presence of undocumented foreign nationals.
Johannesburg Metro Police spokesperson Wayne Minnaar says a number of arrests have been made.
“At least 17 will be processed for drinking in public and one for possession of counterfeit goods. We are not targeting anybody based on their nationality. The focus of the raid is anyone who is contravening the law. So if the person is an undocumented foreign national, unfortunately they will have to be taken. If you are in possession of unlicensed firearms or drugs, these too will have to be taken in and charges accordingly,” says Minnaar.
Meanwhile, the Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) have called on police to conduct their raids in a procedural, fair and legal manner.
The head of the LHR’s Johannesburg Law Clinic, Jessica Lawrence, has warned police against putting all foreigners in a category of illegal migrants.
“What we are seeing currently is that many people have just been arrested on the basis of being foreign. So migrants within South Africa particularly asylum-seekers and refugees are incredibly vulnerable and often people flee their home countries due to persecution on the basis of political opinion, gender, sexual orientation as well as war, so people come to South Africa seeking protection from the South African state.”