A heated discussion arose at Site C Blue Hall when the Association for Refugee Communities and Organisations in South Africa (ARCOSA) in conjunction with community leaders and various organisations held an event to mark the International Peace Day on Thursday September 21.
The informative discussion was intended to promote peace among foreigners and South African citizens so that they could co-exist and live in a peaceful environment. As part of the event, an effective integrated project was launched with the intention of closing the gap between the foreigners and South Africans.
The project hopes to mend the broken and hostile relationship between these two parties while educating them about some of the reasons that result in foreigners becoming refugees.
It was the first time the country celebrated the day and some of the misconceptions about foreigners were addressed.
However, those who attended the event accused foreigners of bringing drugs in the country and having a total disregard for the country’s constitution.
They accused foreigners of being involved in criminal activities and complained that many of them were in the country without the necessary documentation.
The residents also accused foreigners of stealing jobs and they would only be able to accept if they start behaving accordingly and abide by the societal values of this country”. However, they praised Somalians for being gentle people who were conducting a legitimate business and were not involved in criminal activities.
Resident, Kwenzikile Ngcuka, alleged that foreigners had no intention of contributing to the development of township communities and accused them of making South Africa a “lawless” place. He blamed government for allowing foreigners who had no documentation to be in the country and said there was a lot that needs to be done to improve security at the border.
He said the issue of integration should had been addressed after the dawn of democracy. He said he was not opposed to peace but there were a lot of issues that needed to be resolved.
“We know that these are our African brothers and sisters. We plead with them to respect the rule of law and societal norms,” he said.
Secretary of Arcosa, Albert Mpazayabo, said they wanted to equip the residents with information in terms of what was expected from refugees. He emphasised that they were not talking about foreigners who were in the country illegally.
He said they also wanted to advise South Africans about what was expected from them when it come to how they treat foreigners.
He said they wanted to build trust, mutual respect and love among these two parties.
He said they wanted these two parties to find a common ground and through this project they wanted to change that narrative.
Executive director of Cape Town Refugee Centre, Rachel Bukasa, said what she had discovered was that people were angry because they had suffered at the hands of the other while the others were saying the same thing. She said there were a lot of things that were needed before people could finally say they are at peace with each other. She described peace as the absence of stress and pleaded with the residents to have peace in their hearts.