Better legal access for foreigners sought
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Johannesburg - Cameroonian Solomon Amabo settled in South Africa two years ago after fleeing persecution in his home country.
Amabo, a journalist, arrived in the country in 2013 because the Cameroonian government wanted to prosecute him for writing articles detailing human rights abuses and corruption.
He had started rebuilding his life as a history teacher when he was attacked during xenophobic violence last month. “I heard people singing outside and suddenly my door was attacked. Luckily, they were not able to get to me. I was able to escape the house through a window,” said Amabo, who has since moved in with friends.
“It was a very traumatising experience and I had to resign from my job and move. I did not feel safe in Jeppestown,” he said.
“What happened in South Africa is a terrible thing. My prayer is that it does not happen again. We ought to live as one people. We have to talk about this so it doesn’t happen again,” he said.
Amabo has called on the police to allow foreigners arrested as part of Operation Fiela to be given access to lawyers.
The police raided 16 buildings in the Joburg CBD on Friday and arrested at least 300 people.
Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) spokesman Wayne Ncube said they had been able to see only 22 women and children who have been handed over to Gift of the Givers by the police since Friday’s arrests. “On Saturday, we were only given access to two detainees at the police station,” Ncube said.
Steven Faulkner, of the People’s Coalition Against Xenophobia, said LHR was worried about how quickly arrested people were being deported. “We have approached Premier David Makhura’s office to rethink Operation Fiela.”