Govt comes to Operation Fiela’s defence

Government asked a court to strike off the roll an application to deal with the validity of Operation Fiela.

FILE: Police search the area of flats controlled by the Mongrels gang in Ottery for guns and drugs on 22 May 2015. Picture: Thomas Holders/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Government has asked the High Court in Pretoria to strike off the roll an urgent application to deal with the validity of Operation Fiela.

The operation was established by President Jacob Zuma after the spate of xenophobic attacks a few months ago.

Police and South African National Defence Force officials were given a mandate to centre on those dealing in drugs as well as prostitutes and illegal immigrants.

Lawyers for Human Rights launched the application against Operation Fiela arguing against the manner in which it is being conducted stating it was unlawful and unconstitutional.

Senior counsel Paul Kennedy says authorities are violating people's constitutional right of privacy when raiding their homes without search warrants.

Government's lawyers have argued that the matter is not urgent and Operation Fiela is not only aimed at foreigners.


Meanwhile, lawyers for Human Rights says it will keep monitoring the operation and may approach another court after the urgent application to challenge its validity was dismissed this afternoon.

The court has ruled against Lawyers for Human Rights stating there is no certainty that Operation Fiela will continue without search warrants.

However the organisation's David Cote is not convinced.

"We are disappointed and we are very concerned."

Cote says a lot of time and money went into this case which they now have to pay for.

He says authorities involved in Operation Fiela must first obtain all the necessary legal documents to search people's homes if they want the crime prevention effort to succeed.