Operation Fiela like ‘ethnic cleansing’
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Johannesburg - Speaking in Yeoville, Johannesburg, on Saturday morning civil society activists including expelled Cosatu general secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, have slammed government’s Operation Fiela, as similar to ethnic cleansing.
Zimbabwean activist, Elinor Sisulu, said the operation – a joint effort by SA Police Service, the army and the Department of Home Affairs – was a kind of “ethnic cleansing” in which foreign migrants to South Africa were being treated like criminals.
“Any state operation which was the image of cleaning or cleansing I find very disturbing, and I think the timing of it is absolutely unfortunate. Even if there was any merit in the operation, the timing (of Operation Fiela) is completely wrong,” Sisulu told Independent.
“There’s been ethnic cleansing. In Rwanda there was talk of cleaning out ‘cockroaches’ and I’ve actually heard people talking about cleaning out (here).”
She said the arrest of car guards- lumped together with people carrying out smash and grabs - meant innocent people were being caught up with the rounding up of criminals.
She said last month’s xenophobic attacks were similar to the xenophobic attacks of 2008.
Vavi said he was attending this morning’s event, hosted by the African Diaspora Forum, to pass on condolences and commemorate the deaths of foreigners in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal.
“We are taking the opportunity to highlight the need to continuously educate our people about the dangers of xenophobia, violence, the dangers of racism rearing its ugly head,” he said.
“We are here to mobilise our people to stop using workers from the African continent as the scapegoats to the South African challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality.”
He said the government’s response to this year’s attacks was “absolutely disgusting” because Operation Fiela showed the prejudices held by South Africans against migrant workers.