Mashaba put to sword for his alleged xenophobic utterances

Executive Mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba has been put to the sword by Amnesty International for what the organisation described as his ‘poisonous, reckless and xenophobic’ utterances on foreign nationals.

Criticism of the mayor was levelled by Deprose Muchena, a southern African regional director of Amnesty International, when he tabled the organisation’s annual report for 2016 to 2017 during a media briefing held at the Sunnyside Park Hotel in Parktown.

Muchena referred to utterances made by Mashaba when residents of Rosettenville burnt down homes of foreign nationals suspected to be dealing in drugs, human trafficking and prostitution. Mashaba had responded to the violent acts by saying he understood the frustrations of the people under a government which had no regard for law and order.

A few months back, Mashaba warned of a crackdown on crime and drugs which he blamed on foreign nationals and warned ‘undocumented’ foreign nationals to leave the city or risk ‘being forced out’.

“It is such politicians like Mayor Mashaba [here] and Donald Trump [in the USA] who are wielding toxic and dehumanising us versus them rhetoric, who are creating a more divided and dangerous world,” said Muchena.

Amnesty International’s Deprose Muchena shows off his body’s annual report booklet.

“These are poisonous, reckless and xenophobic utterances coming from the mayor himself. We expected him to be guarded and cautious in his utterances, but what did we get but poisonous rhetoric that has sent in a wave of attacks on foreign nationals.

“Divisive fear-mongering has become a dangerous force in world affairs. Whether it is leaders like Trump and [Philippine President Rodrigo] Duterte or prominent regional figures like Herman Mashaba, more and more politicians are wielding a toxic agenda that hounds, scapegoats and dehumanises entire groups of people.”

The South African government also came in for a tongue-lashing from Muchena for its handling of protesting university students whom, he said, were ‘asking for their constitutionally enshrined right to education and were met with excessive use of force by the police’.

Saying last year was a difficult year for human rights defenders and activists in the region, Muchena also scolded countries such as Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zambia, accusing them of ‘putting the human rights record in the region on its deathbed’.

Read: Mashaba’s olive branch

Sipho Siso

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