Parliament, Cape Town - There has been no evidence of a “third force” being behind attacks on foreign nationals, a senior South African Police Service (SAPS) official told MPs on Tuesday.
Briefing Parliament’s portfolio committee on home affairs on the wave of attacks on foreigners over the past month, SAPS head of specialised operations, Major General Charl Annandale, said detectives has so far not been able to link the violence to either land invasions or a “third force”.
“In terms of the link between land invasions and these attacks on foreigners, there’s no specific links that we have and also similar to the investigation of a third force,” said Annandale.
“The intelligence community, the detectives, and the Hawks, they are looking in terms of cases of incitement to violence. At this stage it looks like criminality. We will keep on following up and investigating.”
Last week, the State Security Agency said in was investigating whether there was in fact a third force at play – after Zulu King Goodwill Zwelethini made the claim while addressing a peace imbizo in Durban.
Annandale briefed the committee on the operations police conducted since the outbreak of the violence.
“The last figure that I have [is that] we made 309 arrests. I think it’s a bit too soon to expect us to have convictions,” he said.
“What I know is that our detectives, the DPCI (Directorate Priority Crime Investigation) is working closely with the department of justice and the NPA [National Prosecuting Authority] to monitor all of the investigations…”
Home Affairs officials also briefed the committee, saying a total of 2767 foreign nationals have so far been repatriated to their home countries.
“The Malawians in total is 913 that have been repatriated. We then have the Mozambican nationals at 637 in total, Tanzanian nationals – 17, and Zimbabwean nationals 1098…but in total these national groupings are 2665 from KwaZulu Natal. From the displaced shelters in Gauteng, the number that have been repatriated are 102,” home affairs chief director for the immigration inspectorate, Modiri Matthews, said.
These were all voluntary repatriations and more were expected to be repatriated on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The total number of foreign nationals in the country legally from 2010 to date were 889 943. These included 434 650 with work permits, 104 332 refugees, 273 563 asylum seekers, and 77 398 holders of permanent residency documents.
The number of people who overstayed beyond what their permits allows were 333 874.
MPs questioned Matthews on why there were no Nigerians or Somalians being repatriated.
“On the report, we are reflecting on the nationals we dealing with at the displaced shelters and it’s Malawians, it’s mostly from the SADC [Southern African Development Community], but in particular Malawians, Zimbabweans and the Mozambicans,” said Matthews.
“We have not as yet done any documentation of Nigerians or the other nationals which were mentioned in the questions. These are the people actually who have come forward, home affairs have interviewed, and liaised with their embassies that are based on the ground in terms of the arrangements for transport.”
Annandale said while only foreign nationals from neighbouring Southern African countries have been asking to repatriated, complaints of violence have come from individuals from other African countries.
“We also have complainants who will be from Bangladesh, Burundi, Ethiopia, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi so it’s not necessarily limited to those,” he said.