Court gives Operation Fiela the green light

Government asked the court to strike off the roll an application to deal with the validity of the operation.

FILE: Residents of a house look on as police search for guns and drugs during a Fiela Operation in Ottery on 22 May 2015. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The High Court in Pretoria said government can continue with Operation Fiela despite concerns about how it's being carried out.

Government asked the High Court to strike off the roll an urgent application to deal with the validity of Operation Fiela.

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) launched an urgent application arguing that authorities are targeting foreigners sometimes searching their homes without warrants.

Operation Fiela was launched in April after a spate of xenophobic attacks and saw thousands of people arrested, including hundreds of illegal immigrants.

LHR's David Cote said they will monitor the situation and if necessary approach another court.

"Principles behind the operation are very problematic. We're concerned that it's actually feeding into further xenophobia and almost institutionalised violence against foreign nationals, whereas it as initially meant to stop the violence and to ensure everybody is safe in South Africa."

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

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.