Press Statement: Mandela Day 2019

Press Statement: Mandela Day 2019

Press Statement

For immediate Release:  18 July 2019                                                                                                                                                                                                     

 ‘To all those who walk the long road to freedom’

18 July 2019 in South Africa and around the globe, is a pivotal point of reflection: 25 years into South Africa’s democracy and Nelson Mandela Day, observing and commemorating one of many people who led South Africa to liberation together with his fellow political accomplices. The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) respects and acknowledges the heroism and bravery shown by leaders who fought for the liberation for  all South Africans from the oppressive and discriminative apartheid state. However, to this day, millions of South Africans including refugees, asylum seekers and migrants continue to face an oppressive and injust system in which people are denied their basic rights to education, housing, healthcare services, documentation, justice and freedom of movement and assembly based on their economic  and nationality status.

In light of the above, CoRMSA today reflects on Nelson Mandela’s own words:

“The truth is that we are not yet free; we have merely achieved the freedom to be free, the right not to be oppressed. We have not taken the final step of our journey, but the first step on a longer and even more difficult road. For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. The true test of our devotion to freedom is just beginning.”

Although the fruits of South Africa’s early freedom provided for a progressive and liberal Constitution with a Bill of Rights which claims to ‘enshrine the rights of all people in the republic’, the granting of protection to refugees, asylum seekers, migrants living in South Africa and poor South Africans has been negligible and purposely ignored by those in power. South Africa’s growing negative perception on immigration and refugee protection is mirrioring the global movement towards tighter border restrictions and control of people including unlawful limitation of “rights” granted by the Constitution. This movements stronghold is  held by divisive tactics of which humans are ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’ determined by ones documentation status. On a daily basis asylum seekers who have themselves walked a long road to seek their own safety and freedom in South Africa, and other countries, are denied their right to legality, work and study particularly in South Africa. Approximately 96% of all asylum seeker claims and applications are rejected by the Home Affairs. Reasons for these are often unfounded. This high rejection rate, and inaccesible Department of Home Affairs and widespread xenophobic attitude has made daily life for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers treacherous and miserable, often leading to a violation of their basic human rights.

On this day, as South Africans, we cannot accept that 25 years into democracy we still find ourselves discriminating, hating, separating, segregating, oppressing, violating each other’s human rights, subjecting ones life to misery based on their nationality status. We ought to remember that our freedom was not fought alone, we have all walked a long road. The injustices we face are not faced alone and it is the next path to freedom that should be fought together with all those who live in South Africa.

CoRMSA calls for all South African to stand together and strive for better freedom, protection and united South Africa of All who live in South Africa with No prejudice and hatred based on one’s nationality. Our Constitution Preamble clearly stated that “South Africa Belongs to All Who Live in It”

For further information please contact Ms. Abigail Dawson (Communications and Media Officer) 0748515683/0114037560. Email: communications@cormsa.org.zaor Mr. Thifulufheli Sinthumule (Director) on 071 358 0059. Email:thifulufheli@cormsa.org.za.

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