City of Joburg mayor Herman Mashaba File picture: Antoine de Ras/Independent Media

Various migrant community leaders, civil society organisations, and concerned South African citizens will gather on Monday at Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba’s office to protest and hand over a memorandum to him in reaction to his “reckless comments about illegal migrants”.

“Aforementioned organisations and concerned South African citizens agreed that these comments are dangerous, hostile, and can incite violence. These comments are wholly undesirable, given the previous xenophobic incidents in Johannesburg and other parts of the country,” the African Diaspora Forum said in a statement.

The forum said migrants were part of the people who built the city and it was essential for Mashaba as the mayor of the city to “refresh your memory with the history of the City of Johannesburg”.

“Not all migrants are criminals. Crime doesn’t have a nationality. Stop stereotyping. If a mayor catches a criminal, he or she must be taken to the responsible authorities. The media is not the platform or place for parading criminals,” said the forum.

“It is the duty of the mayor to fix decaying/dilapidated buildings. We all need decent and affordable housing in the inner city. Not all migrants are investors. There are refugees and asylum seekers among them. Don’t expect them to come with dollars in your city.”

The forum said it was the duty of a government to control porous borders.

“Migrants needed to regularise their stay in the country; as such, it was incumbent upon the South African government to provide them with the necessary permits, visas, and documents,” the forum said .

“The provision of these permits, visas, and documents, among others, would make it easier for migrants to open bank accounts, register to pay tax, open businesses legally, and send their children to school.”

The forum said migrants could contribute positively to the economic growth of the City of Johannesburg as well as South Africa.

They wanted to be part of processes that could grow the economy of the city and South Africa as well.

“It would be foolhardy for the mayor’s office to reject them outright. Some migrants were asylum seekers and refugees from their countries of origin. As such, it was wholly unwise of the mayor to expose them to their respective embassies in South Africa,” said the forum.

“Given the sad past of the country, we don’t want division in our communities, we want unity.”