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Immigrants and refugees also have rights that must be respected. These rights, and recourse to the law, were discussed at a meeting in Yeoville.
AN urgent call to end discrimination against migrants and refugees was made at a meeting held by the City’s migration unit at Yeoville Recreation Centre on Wednesday, 4 April.

PhillipMigrants have rights too, says Phillip Molekoa from SAHRCThe meeting, which was attended by migrants living in Yeoville and neighbouring suburbs, as well as members of non-governmental organisations, sought to educate migrants on their rights. Yeoville is inhabited mostly by economic migrants from all over the country and from the rest of Africa.

Issues that were raised included exploitation of migrants by unscrupulous employers, harassment and unfair arrests by police officers and discourteous Home Affairs officials.

Martin Munyangai, a co-ordinator at Centre, Right Love and Law, spoke of the poor treatment that migrants endured at the hands of Home Affairs officials and corrupt police officers. “I doubt if human rights exist in this country,” he said. “Some people are being arrested unfairly.”

South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) spokesperson, Phillip Molekoa, explained that migrants were entitled to protection and humanitarian assistance in accordance with the country’s Constitution.

“The Constitution recognises the dignity and the rights of every human being. Everyone in the country is entitled to just and equal treatment,” he said, and explained the powers and functions of the commission, as prescribed by national legislation.

“The SAHRC has the power as regulated by national legislation to take steps were human rights have been violated.” It is an independent national human rights institution created to support constitutional democracy through promoting and monitoring the attainment of everyone’s human rights in the country.

Maureen Mabasa, an outreach facilitator from the Office of the Public Protector South Africa, urged those treated unfairly by police officers to report the matter to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) for investigation.

Joburg is a cultural cauldron because of migrantsJoburg is a cultural cauldron because of migrantsIpid conducts independent and impartial investigations of identified criminal offences allegedly committed by members of the South African Police Services and municipal police. She also encouraged migrants to make use of the Office of the Public Protector to report any improper conduct by a government department.

Public protector
“Anyone can complain to the public protector and staff. The name of the complainant will be kept confidential when necessary and if at all possible.”

She explained the role played by the Office of the Public Protector, including the process of lodging a complaint. “The public protector can investigate maladministration and prejudice suffered by the complainant as a result of abuse of power,” she said.

The public protector is a high level independent constitutional officer appointed by the president on the recommendation of parliament in terms of the constitution.

After the meeting a short performance was given by a Rwandan dance group.

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