Joburg migrant activists say GBV programmes are not inclusive

Joburg migrant activists say GBV programmes are not inclusive

As South Africa commemorates 16 Days of Activism for No Violence Against Women and Children, some migrant rights activists in Johannesburg are questioning the campaign and its programmes.

Speaking to Voice of Wits’ current affairs programme, Breaking Ground, human rights activist Nobuhle Agiti and the Head of Advocacy and Legal Advisor at Scalabrini, Sally Gandar, lamented the alleged discrimination of migrant workers from the country’s campaign against gender-based violence.

“To whom are these programmes designed for? Are they only for South Africans,” says Agiti.

Agiti and Gandar also say government’s policies somehow sideline migrants, making women more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

Addressing issues faced by migrants and stateless people living in South Africa, another guest Vimbai Mabhena shared her journey of trying to get citizenship in the country.

She says she has had to bribe authorities for basic services such as medical care at state hospitals and sometimes even police officials.

Mabhena does not know where she was born nor who her parents are. She, however, says when she was young she was taken in by a couple from Zimbabwe who chased her out of their home during her teenage years.

She has since been searching for her roots, without luck.

Mabhena says she was once asked to pay R3 000 by a Home Affairs official for a birth certificate.

She says she refused to play along but her friend did pay a couple of authorities for identification, which led to her arrest.

Mabhena’s quest for citizenship is currently been handled by the Lawyers for Human Rights.

Legal expert Sally Gandar says the issue of statelessness does not only affect migrants, but South Africans whose births were never registered.

She is urging the government to introduce better measures to assist the previously disadvantaged communities to avoid them or their children ending up stateless due a lack of resources, among other issues.

She says birth registration enforcement by government is not enough in combating the risk of being stateless from childhood.

Laws anti-migrant friendly

Rights Activist Nobuhle Agiti says South African laws are not migrant friendly.

She feels that the government’s 16 days of activism campaign is xenophobic, as it does not include migrant women.

“We have an issue when it comes to police stations; when you go to report a case sometimes they ask you about your nationality something which is not relevant to whatever you would’ve gone there to report, so we go through so much as migrant women” said Agiti.

She adds that one of the women she was helping with a GBV case died due to the police delaying to assist her because she was a migrant.

The Gauteng Community Safety Department has denied assertions that the government’s GBV programmes discriminate against migrants.

The department’s Ofentse Morwane says that while the department’s programmes cover all women, police handle issues of undocumented persons.

Police in Gauteng have on the other hand dismissed bribery claims against officials as hearsay.

Gauteng Police Spokesperson Mathapelo Peters says, “Police have a responsibility to victims of crime. Those who feel they were treated unjustly have a right to lodge a complaint with the police or IPID (Independent Police Investigative Directorate).”

According to Statistics South Africa, 45.5% of international migrants settle in Gauteng.

While it is unclear how many of them are undocumented – the number is said to be extemely high.

Undocumented persons should be deported once found – but the Constitution prohibits public entities from refusing to assist those who need help.

According to the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), Human rights are applicable to all people, therefore everyone in the country is entitled to human rights by virtue of being human.

“Section 27 of the Constitution entitles everyone to access basic healthcare services and no one may be denied emergency medical treatment, which means even undocumented migrants may not be refused emergency medical treatment on the basis of their lack of documentation; but they may be held liable to pay fees for any other health services,” the commisison says.

JMPD vows to crack the whip on officials who mistreat hawkers

JMPD vows to crack the whip on officials who mistreat hawkers

The Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) says officials who abuse their power when dealing with street vendors will be investigated and dealt with.

Spokesperson for the JMPD, Xolani Fihla, made the remark while speaking on Voice of Wits’ Breaking Ground programme on challenges faced by street entrepreneurs in the city and the role of the department.

He says when an informal trader transgresses bylaws – officers should explain to them what they have done before confiscating their goods.

“When your goods are encountered, you have to receive a receipt. If an officer or an official takes your goods without explaining why and where they are taking your goods and how much you have to pay for you to get your goods back – you have to call the JMPD anti-corruption hotline, which is 0800 203 712 and other structures from the City of Joburg you can contact the group forensic and investigations offices.”

Answering complaints of business owners chasing away hawkers outside their buildings in the city, Fihla slammed such practices.

He says companies running business in buildings across Johannesburg have no right to evict hawkers because the city belongs to the local municipality.

Fihla has advised those wishing to run businesses in the city to consult relevant departments, such as the environmental health and the JMPD by-laws unit, for legal and accurate assistance.

Pressure mounts for SABC to halt retrenchments

Pressure mounts for SABC to halt retrenchments

South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) workers affiliated to the Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) downed tools across the country on Friday, despite the suspension of the company’s retrenchment process.

The SABC board put the Section 189 process on ice following a meeting last night.

It had already served some workers with letters indicating its intention to terminate their employment by the 31st of December, 2020.

However, CWU and another union at the corporation, Bemawu, believe that the board’s move is a ruse. They say they want the process scrapped altogether and employment termination letters revoked.

The ANC, its youth wing, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and #NotInMyName are among the organisations supporting the workers’ struggle. The strike follows days of lunchtime pickets by the workers.

The governing party’s national spokesperson Pule Mabe has slammed the board’s resolve, saying they can’t take unilateral decisions at the SABC as if it is a private entity. He called on them to upscale workers’ skills instead of showing them the door.

His colleague Dakota Legoete called on the board to shape up or ship out.

The EFF has called for the board to be dissolved.

SABC Group CEO, Madoda Mxakwe, received the workers’ list of demands.

He has promised a response within a week.

On Thursday, amid protests at the SABC’s headquarters in Auckland Park, Johannesburg, Foreign News Editor Sophie Mokoena informed the crowd that Mxakwe had called for a staff meeting to discuss the job cuts, causing uproar.

That dialogue has since been shelved.

Speaking to VOW FM News, COPE Spokesperson Dennis Bloem condemned the Section 189 process, which comes amid a high unemployment rate in South Africa.

ANC Fezile Dabi Region ward 12 coordinator Thulani Thibana said the job cuts will contribute to the existing high poverty levels in the country.

EFF Head of labour desk in the Joburg region Kgabo Hlonyana said the red barrettes will continue to support the protests till the end.

Rights group, Right2Know, has on the other hand threatened to take the SABC to court should they find that the retrenchment and restructuring process undermines the public’s right to information. 

The organisation has cautioned the SABC board against running the parastatal like a private company, whose bottom line is profits.  

The SABC has consistently emphasised on the need to cut the company’s head count, saying it will help keep it afloat.

However, as public pressure mounts – the jury is still out there on whether the corporation will eventually lay off the 400 it initially intended to.