Govt: Police & army raids not targeting foreigners

Joint raids by police & the army will continue despite claims they’re aimed at targeting immigrants.

FILE. Police seized drugs & stolen goods during overnight raids at the Jeppestown hostels in Johannesburg on 21 April 2015. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - As lawyers for human rights demand access to more than 200 illegal immigrants arrested on Friday, government has denied that joint raids being carried out by the army, police and Home Affairs officials, are targeting foreigners.

Operation Fiela was launched during xenophobic attacks in different parts of the country several weeks ago.

So far, more than 700 people have been arrested during various raids, and this has drawn criticism from non-Government Organisations (NGOs).

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Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) member David Cote said they spent most of Sunday trying to speak to the people arrested in the raids, and fear many of them may be deported soon.

"What we suspect is that there's going to be a deportation shortly, and so it's urgent that we speak to them as soon as possible. We're contemplating whether would should bring a court application. We're still in the planning processes."

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But government's inter-ministerial committee's spokesperson on xenophobic violence, Phumla Williams, says everything done by the people involved in the raids are above board.

"All the operations of Fiela are done in the most humane manner."

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Most of the people arrested on Friday will appear in court today, but it's unclear when the illegal immigrants will be sent back to their own countries.