President Cyril Ramaphosa has condemned the police’s “apartheid-style” approach of asking foreign nationals to produce their identity documents.
“Obviously we cannot accept behaviour like that where people are hunted down in that way and are asked questions in that way about their own identity, because it takes us back to the apartheid way of doing things,” Ramaphosa said on Saturday.
“We are now in a democracy and we should be very restrained and respectful of the rights of people in our country.”
Ramaphosa was speaking to journalists before a presidential imbizo in Bloemfontein, and was asked about reports of police allegedly stopping foreign nationals and asking them to produce proof of their identity.
His comments came after rolling protests and the murder in Diepsloot north of Johannesburg on Wednesday of a Zimbabwean, Mbodazwe Elvis Nyathi, who was killed by a group going door-to-door demanding to check residents’ passports and identity documents.
“We regret the loss of life of a Zimbabwean and I am also pleased that the police, together with the minister, have been on the ground and have been stabilising the situation and there are investigations now under way,” said Ramaphosa.
“Of course we deplore any action that is taken against anyone to a point where they are killed.
“We continue to say that we should not take the law into our hands and we should not be targeting anyone in the way that people from other countries have been targeted because whatever we say, it no sooner becomes something that becomes xenophobic.
“As South Africans we should always be respectful to people from other nations, and whatever challenges we have we should use the law enforcement channels.”
Police minister Bheki Cele refused to answer questions from the media about Nyathi’s murder. TimesLive