Cape Town - Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini on Tuesday accused the Economic Freedom Fighters of whipping up anti-government sentiment in shelters housing foreign nationals who fled the wave of xenophobic violence this month.
“In that situation there was sensitivity and opportunism that was meant to drive the anger of the foreign nationals towards government,” Dlamini told a media briefing when asked about allegations that she stopped immigrants at the camp in Isipingo from accepting donations from EFF members.
Dlamini said government officials had to placate the refugees by stressing that President Jacob Zuma had denounced the violence that has left at least seven dead.
At the weekend, the EFF said it had seen refugees in shelters in Ethekwini living in “horrific” conditions without adequate blankets, mattresses, sanitation and security and in Isipingo some had complained that they were harassed by the police.
“The refugees appealed to the EFF to ask for the United Nations Refugee Agency to intervene as they do not feel safe in the hands of the South African government. They argued that without foreign observers more atrocities may be afflicted on them,” party spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said.
Ndlozi accused government of trying to politicise the camps and keep opposition parties from visiting them.
In reponse, Dlamini said donations to the shelters had to be channeled through committees that comprised of government officials and foreign nationals.
She went on to claim that government had been advised by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees not to allow journalists to enter the shelters.
“The UN has been saying repeatedly that the media should not go in there.”