Workshop tackles xenophobic violence

Nombulelo Simanga with Vuyo Ntlangu, the managing director of the Institute for Social Cohesion and Skills Development.

Those who attended a workshop organised by the Institute for Social Cohesion and Skills Development (ISCSD), on Friday November 1, agreed to share what they had learned to prevent attacks on foreign nationals.

The gathering took place after xenophobic violence in Johannesburg stirred tensions between foreigners and locals.

Locally, tensions flared on Wednesday when police arrested a number of foreign nationals occupying Waldorf Arcade in the city centre as part of a sit-in protest against xenophobia but later released many of them. The hundreds of asylum-seekers have been camping outside the offices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for about a month.

In response to all these, the institute which is a partner of International Organisation for Migration (IOM), held a community empowerment workshop on Human Rights, Social Cohesion and Community Peace building at Litha Park, in Khayelitsha.

The institute said the aim of the workshop was to raise awareness on the rights and obligations of migrants in the country, promote peaceful coexistence between migrants and locals, foster social cohesion and prevent xenophobic violence in Khayelitsha.

Vuyo Ntlangu, the managing director of ISCSD, explained: “We embarked on these social cohesion interventions because migrant protection is everyone’s moral obligation. The recent xenophobic attacks in our country are an embarrassment in the international community. It is about time we realise that migrant rights and refugee rights are human rights that should be protected.”

The workshop covered topics like strategies for promoting diversity, peace and ubuntu, conflict transformation and skills of conflict mediation, why people migrate, and the rights and obligations of non-citizens in South Africa.

Mr Ntlangu added that his organisation was working tirelessly to build communities of peace and diversity in the province.

When it was time for participants to give their input, some admitted not knowing that migrants had rights or that they were also protected by our Constitution.

The workshop was attended by about 50 community members who represented various structures of the Khayelitsha community, including the International Organisation for Migration and Peace Centre.