The City of Cape Town briefed the Committee on its strategy to anticipate and deal with violence against foreign nationals. The Social Disorder Hazards Disaster Risk Management Plan was invited on the experiences of violence against foreigners in Cape Town in 2008 and a scientific risk assessment was conducted in order to determine broad threats to Cape Town. The plan had three main elements: early warning, preparedness and response, and recovery. The plan not only catered for violence on foreign nationals or xenophobia, but was also intended to deal with all forms of social disruption. Key to the plan was cooperation amongst the various spheres of government in line with their constitutionally assigned responsibilities.
Dealing with this form of social unrest was more about social cohesion than policing. It was the State’s duty to ensure that it promotes inclusivity and a state of national unity, therefore a culture of tolerance needed to be instilled in the community, where there is understanding of different races, cultures, genders and socio-economic backgrounds. The State’s role was to move forward and redress the injustices of the past that gave rise to these types of situations. The feeling of South African citizens was that foreign nationals in communities were taking away businesses, marrying people, and living in government housing schemes. The CCT therefore introduced a strategy to mobilise all the partners involved to have a social cohesion plan in place. The interventions included interacting with the National Disaster Management Centre and other national level institutions, and also interactions with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees and reviewing the Social Disorder Hazards Disaster Risk Management Plan.
The presentation then went through a schematic of how the Social Disorder Hazards Disaster Risk Management Plan would operate in practice from the point of early warning to preparedness and action, and recovery. The presentation also noted the plan’s response to the recent threat of violence in January 2015.
The Chairperson emphasised that Parliament had not come to the conclusion that the incidents of violence against foreigners was due to xenophobia. The dictionary definition of xenophobia is extreme, irrational hatred of foreigners. South Africans live with these people in their communities, side by side.
During the discussion Members focused on asking the City of Cape Town for the root causes of the violence against foreign nationals. Specific concerns included the number of foreign nationals in Cape Town and whether these people were legally in the country or recorded in some form. Further, for the opinion of the City of Cape Town on the vast number of foreign nationals in the service industry, driving metered taxis and who conducted informal trading in Cape Town, and whether this was negatively affecting local people. Members asked what the City of Cape Town’s stance on the success of Operation Fiela.
The City of Cape Town responded that the root cause of violence against foreign nationals was due to a lack of social cohesion and tolerance, which was largely due to apartheid. Further, the absence of economic opportunities and the competition for scarce job opportunities led to violence against foreigners. Representatives did not have statistics on the number of foreign people in the city, in various industries or who own business. However, the City of Cape Town had amended its by-laws to better regulate participation in informal trading. Further, it has a specialised unit to deal with complaints about discriminatory employment practices and to try and ensure equal participation in employment and business.
Members asked for further information on the root causes and for statistics around the numbers of foreign nationals in Cape Town, amongst other concerns. The Chairperson asked the City of Cape Town to respond in writing.
The Chairperson gave some background. The Committee had been engaging with stakeholders who had been affected by this violence and who had made certain inputs. The Committee went to KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) on oversight and met with various parties. The Committee went to Isipingo in KZN, to get deeper into the issues, because the intention of the Committee was to probe violence against foreign nationals and discover the deep-rooted causes of these problems. The Committee also went to Hout Bay in the Western Cape, and COSATU and FEDUSA made presentations. Moving forward there would be more engagements on the programme, and a meeting was scheduled for the following week. He had made an appeal that as the National Council of Provinces would be on oversight that week that logistical arrangements were made, because the Committee was behind schedule. The Committee was to make recommendations and findings, reporting to a joint sitting of Parliament at the end of September. The National Council of Provinces Members in this committee were Chairpersons and it was difficult for them, as their programmes had already been drafted. These Members were not absent deliberately, as they had prior commitments. Only the briefing by the City of Cape Town would be received, because the Centre for Violence and Reconciliation would not be attending due to a prior commitment, which they could not reschedule.
Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) asked for it to be agreed that the Centre for Violence and Reconciliation submit their presentation in writing as there was not a lot of time before the Committee had to present to Parliament.
The Chairperson said a meeting was scheduled for 1 September, which was postponed, and the Centre for Violence and Reconciliation was ready to make its presentation on that day. He asked for a seconder for the proposal or anyone who was opposed to the suggestion.
Mr S Motau (DA) said i possible the Centre should be accommodated, because they were involved in the study of the topic at hand and the Committee would be in a better position following the briefing.
Mr R Chance (DA) agreed, the Committee should receive as many reports as possible in the time available. Those who could not submit in person should be asked to submit in writing.
Adv K Mpumlwana (ANC) did not see a difference in the views presented by the two Members; it was said that if there were time then the presentation should be accommodated. The decision to be made was whether there was in fact time; as the Committee agreed that it should be accommodated time permitting.
The Chairperson agreed, the matter would be dictated by the time available and if the Committee were pressed for time a written submission would be received.
Briefing by the City of Cape Town
Mr Wilfred Solomons-Johannes, Manager: Special Projects and Community Engagements, City of Cape Town, said the City of Cape Town (CCT) had previously been engaged with the Committee when it did its outreach campaign in Hout Bay. CCT has learnt a hard lesson, with this being the first experience of violence against foreign nationals since 2008 and it came as a shock. It therefore had to put in place plans on how to deal with attacks on foreign nationals, who were at the time referred to as internally displaced persons.
Institutional arrangements had been put in place between CCT, the Western Cape government and national government. Major role payers were the Department of Home Affairs (DHA), the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Critical to this was sorting out support to foreigners when attacked and the response by CCT. An intelligence system was put in place to monitor hotspots where these incidents were likely to occur within the metropolitan area. The community development workers had also been mobilised to be on the lookout for these types of incidents, in areas where high numbers of foreign nationals lived. The biggest challenge was strengthening the relationship with the police, because managing the situation was not all about police. An inclusive and tolerant society was the aim and a good network was set up through community policing forums.
CCT undertook studies and workshops with a wide range of stakeholders. On 24 and 25 November 2008, CCT met with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid so that the situation could be better managed. CCT was surprised by the incidents and did not know how to handle the situation. The United Nations Convention and international standard prescribed under the SPHERE document, which indicated how countries that were signatories to the Convention ought to deal with people from other countries. Further, that law enforcement agencies knew the difference between violent crimes and incidents of xenophobia. When the Committee did its investigation in Hout Bay the majority of what was raised were issues of criminality and not merely attacks on foreign nationals. It became about people stealing things or people doing something wrong leading to an incident.
The core competency dealing with the entire range of foreign nationals including immigrants, refugees and asylum seekers, is the State. Therefore communication between CCT and the Province and national government had to be improved. Especially, communicating with national government, which was where the majority of these functions lay. CCT worked very hard in this regard to share information and alerts to keep all parties informed. During the 2008 event, there were many issues on which CCT, provincial government and national government gave conflicting information. Therefore, the cooperative governance efforts were very important to have a clear plan in place and a unified command system. This would ensure that if an incident happened there was a plan in place and a process for people to follow, which was accountable to one authority. The incident in De Doorns in March 2011also provided a good learning experience, although it was outside the city.
Dealing with these incidents was largely about social cohesion and not all about policing. The history of apartheid and political division among people was common knowledge and it was the State’s duty to ensure that it promoted inclusivity and a state of national unity. A culture of tolerance needed to be instilled in the community, where there was understanding of different races, cultures, genders and socio-economic backgrounds. The State’s role was to move forward and redress the injustices of the past that gave rise to these types of situations. The feeling from South African citizens was that foreign nationals were in communities taking away businesses, marrying people, and living in government housing schemes. The CCT therefore introduced a strategy to mobilise all the partners involved to have a social cohesion plan in place, and also to look at how differences could not only be understood, but also celebrated. This would allow people to understand what was important in other people’s cultures, moving towards a cohesive society.
The CCT had thus far developed a booklet or guideline for all people employed within CCT and refresher courses were conducted every year, to understand how to deal with foreign nationals. It was often difficult if foreign nationals did not speak local languages and the CCT, along with the UN, therefore established a network of foreign nationals in Cape Town to get their advice on how to manage the situations. The best thing developed was, the early warning system and with the recent attacks there were no incidents in Cape Town. Part of prevention was early warning and if there were no such system to detect and stabilise situations then, half the fight was lost, as this was the easiest way to stabilise the situations and maintain law and order. Further, a coordinate approach was important and CCT is under the lead of SAPS, with everything being reported to the National or Provincial War Room of the SAPS.
Interventions put in place since 2008 included following interactions with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees; an office has been set up in Cape Town. The CCT had quarterly meetings with them to keep up to date, learn of trends and receive information that they had. The Western Cape Government established a social conflict plan for the province. The CCT reviewed this and has conducted a risk assessment of where the common problems lay, where the hotspots were, and what in fact needed to be looked out for. Flowing from this CCT finalised its plan in 2013 in line with the integrate approach. The Social Disorder Hazards Disaster Risk Management Plan did not speak only to xenocide or xenophobia, because there were underlying causes to such violence. The plan looked at such factors and how they can best be managed. The plan covered several concerns, including bomb threats and hostage taking, civil unrest and vandalism, terrorism and xenophobia. This plan indicated how the city is responsible, in cooperation with the other two spheres of government.
The CCT liaised with national government and the Department of Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs, and tasked the National Disaster Management Centre with ensuring the DHA was the lead Department. The South African Human Rights Commission report following the 2008 attacks said the problem was not solely within the sphere of national government and both other levels should cooperate to ensure there were plans in place to deal with these issues. This had been work shopped on a national level, taking place at the North West Disaster Management Centre, to ensure that the necessary plans were in place. The most important intervention was strengthening the relationship with SAPS through the National Joint Intelligence structures.
On 20 January 2015 sporadic reports were received of Somali nationals being attacked and taking refuge in mosques in Mayfair, Johannesburg. As a result of the violence and unrest, threats were received in the Western Cape and Cape Town. This led to the immediate activation of the response structures to see how quickly they could respond. Mediators were sent out to communities and community development workers convened the ward committees and street committee clusters. They also asked local community and religious organisations for assistance. At that time the CCT did not want to raise an alarm, given the relative stability that prevailed. People were deployed to the hotspots identified by SAPS, including Philippi, Nyanga, Milnerton, Delft and Mfuleni. Following this in April 2015 the attacks in KZN occurred, which CCT also went to investigate.
The Western Cape provincial and municipal actions included: CCT requesting the provincial Departments to be on high alert. This came from the position that local government should be taking the first step and be the first to know, because these things occurred at the grass roots level. The CCT should be in the position to inform its principals, as well as the provincial and national governments, so that they could be in a state of preparedness. Various plans were activated and all stakeholders were informed of specific guidelines on how to react, where to report the incidences, and what actions to take. CCT was therefore ready to deal with the situation, because in 2008 six camps were opened to deal with the displaced people, but this time not a single mass care centre was opened.
Mr Solomons-Johannes spoke to a table that depicted a schematic timeline for how the response would occur including risk mitigation; preparedness, response and relief; and recovery. While it is all well to have early warnings and manage the situation, if we could not recover effectively then it could be problematic. In 2008 there were many displaced individuals and it took a long time to deal with them, because they could not be repatriated and an entire mediation and negotiation process had to be embarked on to get the people back to their countries of origin. The triggering system for early warning was the intelligence gathered through the various structures, which was then shared with the police and national intelligence agency. It was then further disseminated to all the relevant stakeholders. CCT’s preparedness was very dependent on its cooperation with the other spheres of government to assist if there were a major situation. To this end there was routine intelligence going to the South African Defence Force, SAPS and to the municipal departments to be prepared to deploy at any time. Turning to the recovery, he said once the incidents had been managed the people affected required assistance and relief. This required cooperation with national government, because many of the foreign nationals were here illegally. Therefore, CCT’s cooperation was required to go through the documentation process and ensure the people were in the system. These were the three pillars of the schematic plan and if these were not in place to support the arms of government, particularly national government to take the lead, then the efforts would not be successful. The plan had been successful in that the lines of communication to national government were in place and if people were not kept informed the unrest was allowed to boil over.
South Africa had a complex constitutional mandate for state powers with federal characteristics with central government functions. It was clear what Chapter C of the Cooperative Governance legislation required be done. It was understood that sometimes certain municipalities or provinces operated on their own, but this could not be done alone. An analysis of the various laws and constitutional provisions was conducted and each activity was linked to the responsible department. For example the safety and security structures would be responsible for intelligence gathering, crime prevention, visible policing and the maintenance of law and order. The CCT’s actions and interventions were based on this approach. Further, the National Disaster Management Centre must provide the support and emergency support to immediately react. It was key that to maintain law and order within communities, policing was not the only factor and the trust of the people needed to be won. The State needed to engage in trust building, to ensure communities were willing to come forward and report things that may be going wrong. This was why the community development workers, mediators and religious partners were deployed to encourage this trust. The other functions identified were generally generic government functions and some which the CCT was responsible for, including providing emergency shelter in community halls and in particular that the necessary infrastructure arrangements are in place.
In relation to the work of the Committee investigating the underlying causes, with the Committee’s regional manager, the coordination office in the province and the immigration department were asked for assistance, to ensure that there was an effective movement control system in place for the documentation of these people. In many instances people lost their documentation or were in the country illegally and some form of repatriation was needed. These arrangements were institutionalised within the CCT; the others were signatories to the CCT’s plans for the city. Further, a group of foreign national communities was established, which is communicated with on a quarterly basis. The Western Cape Religious Leaders’ Forum brought together all religions involved, because the quickest way to reach the people is through the religious institutions. The CCT had a good relationship with religious organisations and community structures. Government could not do this alone, because it had limited resources and needed communities to work with it. The UN was also leaned upon for support and guidance, but also to monitor the xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals and how to deal with them. The CCT was also expanding its relationship with the UN through the United Nations Association of South Africa, which was the umbrella body for all UN institutions present in South Africa.
All of the above is centred around coordination and having a unified command for people to listen to. National government decided that the National Joint Intelligence structure would be the driver for this. There were other endeavours such as operation Fiela and CCT was party to this. Every Tuesday the CCT presented intelligence in the provincial war room and receives indications of potential threats and the actions to be expected or what actions it could take. This was to ensure that th various coordinated structures worked together.
The majority of these functions were located within the national government sphere and therefore the support required by local governments to respond to and manage these types of incidents was serious. The DHA put a series of mechanisms in place to ensure that CCT was supported, but also the major challenge was that South Africa had a huge boundary to protect. The DHA needed to further ensure that there was adequate border control and effective documenting of foreign nationals coming into South Africa. SAPS needed to continue to work on an effective intelligence and early warning system being in place to effectively anticipate threats. It was important to proactively engage communities with large numbers of foreign nationals. The CCT launched the Inclusive City Campaign, which encouraged people to acknowledge that everyone living in Cape Town belonged, had rights, and deserved to have services rendered to them. A series of open social dialogues were being rolled out to speak to ward committee structures and create a social dialogue for people to express their views. The other major issue was the informal trading in communities and through Operation Fiela, the city’s informal trading by-laws and national legislation the regularisation has been enforced. This led to the equal distribution and that people were allowed to trade, also stimulating economic growth.
The Chairperson said he wanted to ensure that the broader South African nation understood that Parliament established an Ad Hoc Committee on Probing Violence Against Foreign Nationals. Parliament did not characterise these attacks as xenophobia. Government instructed it to probe violence against foreign nationals; therefore the conclusion cannot be arrived at that South African citizens were xenophobic. The dictionary definition of xenophobia was extreme, irrational hatred of foreigners. South Africans lived with these people in their communities, side by side. South African communities and government did not create camps for foreign nationals. A conclusion had not been reached and the intention was to find the issues. Through the submission the CCT had indicated that these were criminal activities and ought to be classified as such and not labelled xenophobic violence.
Mr Solomons-Johannes said CCT in 2009 undertook a scientific risk assessment of the city, to understand what was being dealt with. This risk assessment analysed various issues including natural disasters and amongst these were the social conflict issues including xenophobia and civil unrest. Running concurrently, so as to not be driven by academia, in every ward of the city a community based risk assessment was done where the communities themselves indicated what they felt were the risks. This was not done by analysing reported incidents, as the community may not necessarily report everything and may engage better through open dialogue. The above informed the planning process. This would indicate both the risk of violence occurring and the target audience of the violence. The best way to prevent something happening is through a planning practice called the five Es of prevention. The first E is about the early warning, because if there were no early warning system then all else failed, and if there were no effective intelligence system to keep the communities and decision makers informed. Engineering solutions was another E and it required one to think how the national laws and constitutional powers for assignment of duties to engineer solutions. If the law indicated certain functions must be done at specific levels of government this must be done. We must not usurp constitutional powers or duties. CCT had helped many other municipalities when they requested help and deployed its personnel. Sometimes the problem was that people did not apply the law effectively or did not know what was required of them. The other issue was how to prevent these instances of violence, the base was providing economic opportunities and providing a climate for emerging markets. The past injustices must be redressed and opportunities must be provided under government’s broad based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) so that people could come into the mainstream market. These were some of the challenges faced and CCT has looked at this and explored how to bring communities into growth. The other aspect was the education and training campaign, but we were failing in this. These issues were not talked about or addressed in public discourse. Racism and apartheid was institutionalised in this country, South Africans were not born racist they were trained to be racist. It was the State’s duty to inculcate a culture of unity, reconciliation and redress. Therefore, the State needed to drive education campaigns. These did not have to be formal lecture theatre style; rather they could be taken into the communities for open discussion. Prior to the incidents happening, we never talked about xenophobia or foreign nationals in the country. It was time that the State applied its mind on how to educate people on why foreign nationals were present and what the law prescribed. These were some of the high level ways in which these incidents could be prevented. The definition of xenophobia was extreme hatred in the way the Chairperson had described and this is how it has been captured in dictionaries. South Africa had a Constitution that valued its citizens and engendered a caring government. The Bill of rights tried to provide redress and protect citizens. Therefore, sometimes classification of things was done in a certain way to try and ensure that government was responsive to certain things. One of the questions was around the CCT’s xenophobia plan; the plan was not called a xenophobia plan because xenophobia was as a result of prior things that led to xenophobia coming about. The CCT’s plan catered for instances of xenophobia and other issues such as racial violence. It was difficult for people in South Africa to see another person without seeing their race; this was due to the legacy of apartheid. The State should address this and he felt national laws should prescribe the definition of xenophobia.
On the causes of xenophobia, at the base was competition for scarce resources and the presence of large numbers of people who were marginalised, seeking a better life and better job opportunities. South Africa as part of the Southern African Development Community had treaties with the southern African region. The borders could be opened up and free movement could take place. South Africa employed a lot of low skill labour in the market and this marginalised local people from the job market. The Members of the Committee said that the CCT had already come to a conclusion on these issues and this was true, because of the extent of the risk assessment study conducted. Plans and strategies were developed in line with this assessment, which led to an effective plan that was able to respond efficiently. However, the CCT was open to learning from others. If the Committee had findings or recommendations which could be used to improve this would be welcomed, as other provinces may have found other, better ways of dealing with the problems.
Adv Mpumlwana, acknowledged the remarks of the Chairperson and asked whether CCT regarded the attacks as xenophobic and, if so, why. What were the causes of the violence? The presentation did not indicate this, despite all the intelligence and systems in place. Attacks on Somalis had been occurring for almost ten years in Cape Town, what caused this violence? Before one could look for solutions the causes must be understood. He appreciated the point on by-laws regarding informal trading, but what about the people employed in places like restaurants and petrol stations, was CCT aware of all these people and were they recorded somewhere? CCT having acknowledged that there were illegal immigrants, was there a way for the system to catch up with all the illegal immigrants in Cape Town? What were the chances that this violence would recur? The CCT’s system for reaction was good, but they seem to be reactionary only. He did not understand when the federal system and local government was spoken about, and asked that this be expanded upon.
Mr Solomons-Johannes, on the labour law and people in formal employment, said this was not within the scope of local government and was not something that it enforced, such as employment equity levels. These laws also allowed for foreign nationals to be employed and it was up to the employer to inform the Department of Labour, which was responsible for recording the numbers. However, CCT through its Inclusive City campaign was driving a message and the majority of the problems experienced were in the hospitality and service industry. Therefore, CCT signed an agreement with the Federated Hospitality Industry of South Africa and the Restaurateurs Association of South Africa to ensure that locals were catered for, while also providing opportunities for others. The way employment was done should not be discriminatory against locals and business needed to help create the opportunities in the market. All that could be done was to educate and raise awareness of what the law required. It was also important that the Department of Labour enforce the requirements. If complaints were received by CCT of really discriminatory employment practices then this was reported to the Department of Labour or the South African Human Rights Commission. On the federalised and centralised state, what he referred to was that some of the powers of state were assigned to the local level and others were assigned nationally or provincially. For example spatial development was a provincial function, while customs and immigration was a national function, which rested with national government. This function may lie with national government, but its implementation had direct implications for local government and therefore cooperation was needed. The critical thing was the mechanisms for cooperation and cooperative governance.
Ms L Dlamini (ANC, Mpumalanga) said she concurred that the system the CCT had in place was good in terms of its reaction. At the beginning of the presentation it was said that Somalis were accommodated in a mosque in Mayfair Johannesburg, but how did this happen when and who was at Mayfair when there were so many mosques in Cape Town. What was the relationship between those accommodated here and Mayfair? The CCT said “it is purely criminal” yet did not give the root causes that led to the conclusion that it was purely criminal. Later there were by-laws to regulate business activities, what was the relationship between these business activities and the attacks? What issues did the people who attacked the foreign nationals raise? The Committee was more interested in that, because it spoke to the root causes. Were the issues business related and, if so, in terms of big business or small business? How many Spaza shops in the city did foreign nationals operate, and how many were operated by locals. It was not indicated how many people were affected by either the recent attacks or the 2008 attacks. How many women and children were involved and how were they dealt with? How many were in the country legally and how many illegally? She had experienced other cities streets were solely operated by foreign nationals, were there such instances in Cape Town? Were locals operating the stalls at the markets at the Cape Town Promenade? What was CCT’s take on that? What was the comparison between the prices at local stores and foreign national operated stores, and where did they buy their stock and why was it so cheap? Most of the staff in restaurants and hotels were foreign, and the taxi industry, especially metered taxis. This was a major issue and what was the position of CCT on this? Would it simply wait for violence to occur and then react with its system?
Mr Solomons-Johannes, on why CCT was concerned with what was happening in other provinces, said the first responsibility of a state was to protect its citizens and if it did not know what was happening in other places which could lead to instability across the country then it has failed in that duty. There needed to be a situational awareness, because the actions of a people in a particular section could influence the actions of people elsewhere in the country. On how many foreign owned Spaza shops there were in Cape Town, he did not have the figures. People were being documented and there was a specific informal training unit that handled any complaints that came in regarding this sector. CCT did not however deprive anyone of the opportunity to engage in an economic opportunity, but it did try to regularise it. People wanted to make themselves a way of life and the state must avoid being seen as one that encouraged social dependence on government. CCT did not want to simply police people and say they could not have a business in a residential area. What even local government should also do is to foster opportunity, by creating economic hubs such as markets. It was very difficult for the city, but it had established a special committee that worked closely with the Hawks, SAPS and Customs and Immigration. This was done because much of the goods sold by many people, locals and foreigners, were counterfeit. There were operations in place, being implemented across the city, to deal with counterfeit goods as they implicated taxes, established businesses and the businesses which complied with the law.
Mr R Chance (DA) said had the co-chair been present a stern lecture, even more so than what the Chairperson gave, would have been given to the CCT for jumping to the conclusion that the violence was xenophobia related. Whilst he was sure that some of it was, jumping to the conclusion that it was at its root xenophobic was not helpful. Members made the point that the Committee was interested in the socio-economic dynamics of Cape Town’s communities. Perhaps this was glossed over, because Cape Town was lucky enough to avoid the outbreak in April 2015 and it was felt that the problem was solved. However, Cape Town did experience violence in 2008. He commended the CCT for the comprehensive presentation, which seemed to have had an impact. CCT however could not always be sure and needed to have its intelligence out there and be ready to ensure that these things did not happen again. The City was jam packed with immigrants, not just Somalis, and there was no doubt that if you took a taxi, visited a restaurant or a Spaza shop, virtually all these businesses were run by or employing foreigners. Were the consequences or effects of this being gone into during the communications with the representatives of the foreign nationals and the local people? Was there on-going tension that may not necessarily lead to violent outbreaks, but may be cause economic hardship and exclusion from the economy of Cape Town? He was aware that CCT had done a lot of work to review its by-laws, but has d it been able to influence the law enforcement agencies so that some of the xenophobic attitudes by these agencies and the DHA could be avoided in the future. He believed that these were the sorts of interventions that CCT could play a leading role in, even though these agencies are not under its direct control, as it was in its communities that the effects were felt. He asked whether it was felt that Operation Fiela was the right response in Cape Town and to what extent was it implemented even though there were no outbreaks of violence recently. Further, was CCT continuing with it or was SAPS continuing with it and what were the consequences of the number of foreigners in the country illegally? Had they been identified and were they being legalised as it were? What was the reliance on NGOs for the relief being provided? When the Committee was in KZN it was clear that NGOs were being relied upon heavily to provide tents, food, sanitation and so on. There was even a situation now where there was a farmer near Pietermaritzburg who was putting up around 150 Congolese nationals. Was the city providing this sort of relief from its own resources? Why was Hout Bay not included as a potential hotspot when this was where much of the violence occurred originally? On terminology, in some parts of the world the phrase emergency management, rather than disaster management is used. Would this form of violence be classified by CCT as a disaster or an emergency?
Mr Solomons-Johannes said as he had indicated CCT had done a risk assessment to get to where it was today, but the national Business Act was in place and provided for provinces and municipalities to have their own by-laws to regulate their operations. CCT was not making laws that were inconsistent with national law or policy. The National Development Plan required municipalities to play a role in creating economic opportunities for people and to promote local economic development. Therefore the policy, procedures and by-laws were designed to help the residents. On whether Operation Fiela was proven successful, CCT was not the custodian of the plan; this was a national strategy that was implemented. Therefore, CCT is duty bound under the Constitution to support national government in its exercise of powers and performance of functions. If support were required from CCT, then this must be rendered. As a result of Operation Fiela many illegal activities and illegal immigrants were discovered and effectively dealt with. CCT had been attacked by human rights activists saying it was a targeted attack on foreigners, but was incumbent on the State to exercise its constitutional role of enforcing the law and dealing with these types of issues. These were the underlying reasons that created tension within communities and needed to be addressed to foster unity in communities. On why Hout Bay was left out as a hotspot area, Masiphumele was included, which was township near Hout Bay. When the Committee went on its oversight trip to Hout Bay this was indicated as well. In Cape Town the network of social relief partners were institutionalised. A national government policy, through the Social Assistance Act, required that the State must provide for social relief of distressed people. This was not limited to citizens and extended to any person within the republic. A network of social relief partners was created between CCT, NGOs, the province and South African Social Security Agency through written agreements. Where there were any incidents then CCT helped people through this network. On how different countries define emergency and disaster, this was dictated by provincial legislation specifically Chapter 1 of the Disaster Management Act 57 of 2002. It defined a disaster as any situation that may be slow onset or sudden, it may be localised or general, but this was qualified by the requirement that the situation be beyond the scope of those involved to deal with. The Hyogo Framework for Action, which flowed from the Millennium Development Goals, set out certain things that must be done. However, terminology changed over time and for example the Unites States had the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), while in South Africa two key concepts were disaster management and disaster risk management. The Disaster management authorities must not be a response of government and therefore CCT needed to be proactive. The new terminology was around how to manage the specific disaster or risk thereof. The hazard faced regarding this violence was social unrest; disruption and the factors which could give rise to xenophobia. This risk therefore has to be managed.
Mr S Motau (DA) understood the presentation was mainly geared towards how future attacks would be responded to and this was good. CCT’s help was needed and the Committee needed to get to the root causes. Reference was made to the xenophobia plan developed in 2009 and updated in 2013. His interest was why the plan was characterised as a xenophobia plan, as there must have been something that led to term this characterisation. CCT had indicated that it did not believe the attacks were mere xenophobia. Another aspect that had intrigued him was there was not much violence in Cape Town this time around and CCT had indicated that in January 2015 threats were received, leading to the immediate activation of the early warning system, which helped mitigate the danger. What form did these threats take and what was CCT being told?
Mr E Makue (ANC, Gauteng) thought that the Chairperson needed to rule that the mandate of the Committee was to look at what happened in January 2015 onwards and not to go back to 2008. Everything related to that needed to be put in the context of how it helped the Western Cape Disaster Management team prepare for this year’s events. He wanted to verify that the CCT had indicated that no attacks had happened against foreign nationals in Cape Town in 2015. He was worried about the way forward, because of the way the presentation spoke about aggregating responsibilities to certain spheres of government and specific Departments. The DHA is a Department of government and the major responsibility cannot be given to the DHA and it be expected that another Department to be subjected to its authority. Maybe the CCT could help the Committee understand why this position was taken. He would have thought that the local municipalities should take on more responsibility, because they were present where the threats existed. Reference was made to a refugee booklet developed in 2013 and it could help the Committee to have a copy of that booklet on the record, to assess its value for the rest of the country.
The Chairperson, in response to Mr Makue’s request for a ruling, said the mandate of the Committee was to look into the findings and recommendations regarding the violence that took place in 2008. Moving from there, then the violence, which took place in January 2015 going forward, should be assessed. Perhaps when the support staff interacted with CCT they asked them to look at what happened in both 2008 and 2015. He added to Mr Chance that he was reluctant to give lectures and his role as Chairperson was to facilitate the discussion.
Mr Solomons-Johannes said there were no attacks on foreign nationals in 2015; reports came in as attacks on foreign nationals. The Criminal Procedure Act required an investigation to classify crimes and a proper investigation must be carried out to determine that it was indeed an attack on a foreign national. At the oversight visit to Hout Bay it was stated that the attacks were in fact instances of criminality, because attacks on foreign nationals were the activities, incidence or situations in which locals or foreign nationals, relating to or involving foreign nationals. People therefore immediately perceive certain attacks as violence against foreign nationals, however looking deeper it would be seen that the matters involved housebreaking or aggravated violence against someone and other generic issues involving crime. The records from the investigations and SAPS at the Hout Bay interaction reported that these were not attacks on foreign nationals. On delegating functions to or by the DHA, this was not the case. At the outset he had indicated that CCT intended to embark on a journey of cooperative governance with the other two spheres of government. CCT is dependent on national government for certain issues and provincial government for others. It could not simply be said that a particular person was foreign and therefore should be repatriated. The person must either be released or go through processing by the SAPS, part of this to determine whether the person was legally in the country.
The Chairperson interrupted saying it would help the Committee if Mr Solomons-Johannes did not speak to generalities. Specific questions had been asked on foreigners in restaurants and taxis, being greater in number than locals. The response to this should simply be whether there was a plan and whether this remedied the situation or “ensured there was no economic competition between foreigners and South Africans”. He asked him to stick to the issues, rather than giving a broad framework or perspective.
Mr Solomons-Johannes said the message he wanted to drive was that the actions, interventions and plans for implementation were in the spirit of cooperative government. CCT needed to work with the other levels of the state, guided by what the law required it to do. These other spheres of government and organs of state must be involved. The law guided the functions of the various Departments and in the plan they were assigned functions in accordance with the law and the input they gave CCT. Therefore, CCT would go to a specific Department when certain things went wrong, because that is their competency.
Mr D Gumede (ANC) enquired around the international experience regarding low skill jobs and foreigners who competed with local people who were not employed. What has the CCT’s risk assessment study shown in that regard?
Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) said perhaps the risk assessment study done by CCT could be shared with the Committee. On the intelligence, it was said that CCT regularly met with the police to try and be proactive, but it was not said what “vibes” were received from these engagements regarding unhappiness in the city. There were also housing issues in Cape Town and he was aware of complaints of state provided housing changing hands. How big was this problem in the city, particularly with foreign nationals paying rent to unemployed people?
Ms Dlamini said the Committee did not wish to find fault with the CCT, it was looking for the root causes. She shared the Chairperson’s concern that Mr Solomons-Johannes was generalising and describing things, without focusing on the questions. Most of her questions had not been answered and this could be forwarded in writing. She thought the first question had been misunderstood, because in the presentation Mr Solomons-Johannes had been talking about attacks in Cape Town and then said that Somalis had been housed in Mayfair, Johannesburg. She was not asking why CCT was concerned about other provinces; she was concerned about CCT referring persons involved in attacks to Johannesburg. On the Spaza shops, she was not questioning why people had Spaza shops. In the township, how many were operated by foreign nationals and how many were operated by locals. It had been indicated that the risk assessment study set the risk for this concern very low. When the Committee visited Johannesburg it was said that of about 700 Spaza shops, 600 were foreign owned. What was the case in Cape Town and if it were the same as in Johannesburg then it should be seen as a high risk. She agreed with Mr Gumede that the Committee should have a copy of the study, particularly as the answers provided in studies were dependent on the questions asked. She had not received an answer on how many people were affected by the attacks, specifically how many women and children, and how these people were dealt with. Mr Solomons-Johannes had mentioned marginalised communities in relation to access to job opportunities, but he did not link it to these attacks. Making a standalone statement did not assist in finding the root causes. She asked if she could assume that the competition for job opportunities had contributed to these attacks.
Mr Mpumlwana said he had also put in very straightforward questions and he would suggest that Mr Solomons-Johannes go back and get some assistance from colleagues on how to answer them. It was good that the CCT had consultants and researched issues, but what were the causes of these attacks. Were there attacks by foreign nationals on foreigners? The problem could not be addressed without knowing the root cause. He had also asked whether it could be said for certain that the foreigners in Cape Town were documented by the system. Were they given some form of identification document? He had not asked what the role of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees was. What was the percentage of economic migrants against refugees? People from other African countries were running big businesses, like security companies in South Africa, were they in Cape Town. With the scientific study does it categorise and count the number of foreign nationals working in hotels, running Spaza shops or driving taxis. Of these foreign nationals a certain number were economic migrants. He asked how the early warning system operated and whether it would pick out physical characteristics such as skin tone or hair colour. Mr Solomons-Johannes had not given the reason why the word xenophobia is being used. Is it a question of misunderstanding the word or is it a question of believing that in fact it was xenophobia. Perhaps there was xenophobia of which the Committee was not aware and it was simply being disregarded, with Members saying there is nothing. What was the bone of contention, because not even animals were violent without reason? It was said that the by-laws were intended to assist by controlling trade. How exactly were they controlling trade and what specific by-laws were being referred to. He believed that Mr Solomons-Johannes needed assistance from his colleagues at CCT. He suggested the Chairperson to give him a chance to, rather than answer the questions now, leave the meeting and collect statistics.
The Chairperson said this is exactly what he was thinking as well. The Committee is putting statistical questions, which are not answered in the presentation. The danger of this was that Mr Solomons-Johannes, as an academic, would try to avoid answering rather than thumb suck. He had encouraged Mr Solomons-Johannes to note all the Member’s questions and the support staff to do the same. They could then liaise and before the next meeting of the Committee the answers could be provided. If there were a need for further clarification, Mr Solomons-Johannes could come with a team. Not to undermine his integrity or intelligence; however, he may not be a master of everything asked and the team may assist.
The next meeting would be the following week and the support staff could summarise the questions and forward them to Mr Solomons-Johannes and the answers could be forwarded to Members.