Operation Fiela – Reclaim : Undermines Human Rights.

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The situation is ripe for government, to rid the country of illegal activities that are perpetrated by foreign nationals and leading to xenophobic attacks as reported by the SAPS.

In the early hours of the morning, the residents of one of the peaceful commune in the north of Pretoria were woken up by the sound of huge bangs and screaming, it was the presence of Operation Fiela. Considering operation fiela was aimed at ridding the country of illegal activities, all the residents of the commune were at alert and ready for a visit by the police to check their apartment.

Shockingly, the police officers were requesting only for Nigerian occupants in the commune. Many of the residents of the commune were shocked and came out of their block to witness the harassment and humiliation of citizens from Nigerians. Claims made by residents and victims of the attacks, many of their personal belongings, money and accessories were taken and unaccounted for during the raid.

Three of the victims were beaten, 2 were unavailable as they were taken to the hospital for treatment and the only injured victim that was around was short of words, shortly he gave into his emotions, as he sat on the bare floor and wept.

In the first string of operation fiela in Kwazulu Natal, the police and Soldiers storm a public hostel in search of illegal firearms from locals residing in the hostel. This raid was aimed at creating a vigilante presence that instigates a sense of fear in locals who are planning attacks on foreign nationals.

In resolving the recent Xenophobic attacks on foreigners in the country, Operation Fiela-Reclaim was launched by President Jacob Zuma, a special operation is focused on drugs, illegal firearms and other criminal activities. It has since seen the army and police searching and detaining hundreds of foreigners across the country.

However, since subsequent raids around the country conducted by the SAPS alongside the army, many of the foreigners who were raided believed the target of Operation Fiela appears to have turned from ending xenophobia to clamping down on vulnerable foreigners. It gives an outlook of attempting to solve the country’s migration problems through force, the operation is also reported as being used for extortion and other criminal activities.

Former Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi also slammed the state’s “Operation Fiela”, insisting that it feeds public perceptions that migrants are to blame for social ills. “Xenophobia feeds on perceptions, and one of the commonest is that “foreigners” are taking jobs from South Africans.” Vavi said that a coalition of thought was needed to address the crisis.

This unprincipled, opportunist and populist Operation Fiela is not ideologically neutral, but seeks to pull wool on the eyes of the working class in South Africa,”.

“Its intention is to tell the 8.5 million unemployed, the 50% of African women who earn below R2,800 a month, the 60% of the youth that is unemployed, the 50% of workers earning below R3,033 a month, the women that are being raped and other victims of drugs and crime in Manenburg and elsewhere that all of these challenges would have not been there, if it was not the not documented migrants,” Vavi said.

Naming a police and army operation which arrests foreigners ”Operation Fiela”, which translates to ”clean sweep” implies that those arrested are ”rubbish” and is counter to government’s commitment to crack down on xenophobia, We are asking for a complete rethink of Operation Fiela’, says Stephen Faulkner from the People’s Coalition Against Xenophobia.

The coalition believes that instead of dealing with crime and social problems, government is ”harassing and arresting on a mass scale” and equating crime with the presence of undocumented people in South African society.