CAPE TOWN – Police Minister Bheki Cele says that talking about the threat of crime posed by illegal foreigners is a real issue and should not be viewed as a xenophobic statement.
Cele has supported a move by the Home Affairs Department to request a postponement from the Constitutional Court in meeting a deadline to amend the Immigration Act. This to guarantee the rights of illegal foreigners to legally challenge their detention.
In June 2017, the Constitutional Court gave Parliament two years to amend the law.
Parliament’s Home Affairs committee on Tuesday conceded that it is unlikely to meet the court deadline before the House rises next month.
The SAPS estimates that 9,000 illegal foreigners are detained every month, but it has no computerized system in place to confirm this.
Cele believes the number is higher.
“We have a huge, huge problem on our hands. No doubt about it. I see these figures that the Brigadier has put here. To me, these are Sunday school figures.”
Cele says an appeal for government to tighten its control over foreign nationals cannot be construed as being xenophobic.
“When Somalis chase our police away and our police retreat because they are running away from a massacre, then you are xenophobic if you say Somalis did that.”
Some MPs agreed, saying it appeared some foreign nationals did not respect the immigration laws of the country.