Africa Check slams Mashaba over claims of foreign nationals occupying inner city

A year after Mashaba made the claim, the Mayor has questioned the "relevance" of the data but has stopped short of admitting he made a mistake.

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba with the mother of the 13-year-old girl who was kidnapped and believed to be inside the hijacked building. Picture: Twitter/@HermanMashaba.

JOHANNESBURG – Africa Check has called on Joburg Mayor Herman Mashaba to take responsibility for making incorrect claims that a minimum of 80% of people occupying dilapidated buildings in the inner city are foreign nationals.

A year after Mashaba made the claim the mayor has questioned the "relevance" of the data but has stopped short of admitting he made a mistake.

According to research conducted by Africa Check, a Social Development Department report conducted last year found that out of the five buildings in Doornfotein that were raided, 30.6% of occupants were foreigners while a further 25% were undocumented.

Another report compiled by the Gauteng City Region Observatory found that migrants make up 26% of inner-city residents.

Africa Check's Kate Wilkinson says the mayor is a public figure and needs to own up for spreading incorrect information.

“I follow a very rigorous methodology to verify statements. Unfortunately, the statement you’re making just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

“This information doesn’t just follow policy and connotations, it also forms perceptions and understanding of the inner city and it informs about what the people think about their neighbours and the people that they live with.”

Speaking on the Eusebius McKaiser Show a short while ago, Mashaba insisted there is no relevance in the debate. He says whether it’s one or 80%, it's unacceptable.

A report by the city’s social development department on the raids of five derelict buildings in Doornfontein (ward 123) in July 2017 also does not support the mayor’s figure.

The report stated that 183 residents were profiled, with only 30.6% of them being foreign nationals. The majority were undocumented (47) and the department of home affairs detained them. (Note: On another page, the report claims that 150 of the 183 residents were South African. We have followed up with the department for clarity.)

Data from South Africa’s last census in 2011 similarly contradicts the mayor. Africa Check used Wazimap, an interactive website that provides access to census data, to pull data on the estimated share of people born outside the country in the inner city wards.

The highest share of foreign-born was in ward 64 (Berea and Hillbrow), where 43% of the respondents indicated they were born outside South Africa.

During the census, people were asked where they were born, not whether they are documented or not. It is therefore expected that “all types of immigrants” will be counted, a discussion document from Stats SA stated.

LISTEN: Herman Mashaba addresses xenophobia claims