Black Sash Media Statements

'Sash condemns MEC's alleged xenophobic remarks' - BLACK SASH, 22 July 2010

BLACK SASH MEDIA STATEMENT - For immediate release: Thursday, 22 July 2010

The Black Sash is deeply disturbed over comments reportedly made by KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Social Development Meshack Radebe that government has been “robbed of millions of rands by foreigners who use fraudulent ID’s to claim social grants.” 

According to a report in the Sowetan (Foreigners are ‘looting SA coffers’ – 21 July 2010), the MEC also said that “people from Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Swaziland were collecting grants fraudulently every month” and that “his department was concerned that the number of foreigners collecting social grants was increasing.” Radebe apparently made the remarks in an address at Prophet Isaiah Shembe one-stop development centre in Inanda, north of Durban on Monday. 

The Black Sash would certainly join the MEC in condemning any fraudulent behavior but surely he didn’t intend to suggest that foreign nationals were solely to blame for the regrettable abuse of our social security system? The Black Sash calls on the MEC to set the record straight immediately if this was not his intention. Two days ago, along with other civil society groups, we launched a national unity campaign aimed at collecting a million signed pledges against xenophobia, intolerance, intimidation and violence. At the launch of our ‘Unite as One’ campaign, we specifically called on leaders in government to carefully consider their statements around foreign nationals to avoid inciting and inflaming post World Cup tensions. We also challenged government and the private sector to speak out more clearly and more loudly against the targeting of foreign nationals, and to promote the message of our campaign which says ‘no’ to racism, ignorance and violence, and ‘yes’ to humanity, peace and unity. 

The Black Sash is concerned that foreign nationals have become useful “scapegoats” for competing business and political interests in communities and that this opportunism has not been countered by strong moral leadership.  We are also worried that the MEC’s alleged comments give the impression that foreign nationals should not be on the social grant system under any circumstances. This is simply not true as they are entitled under the Social Assistance Act to apply and receive a Disability Grant and a Foster Child Grant - and in some instances, the Care Dependency Grant. Foreign nationals are also able to apply for a Social Relief of Distress Award if they cannot support themselves and their dependents and they need immediate temporary assistance.


Read our flyer on the ‘Rights of Refugees’

Find out more about our ‘Unite as One’ pledge campaign

For interview requests, please contact:

Nkosikhulule Nyembezi

Black Sash Advocacy Programme Manager

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Cell: 082-429 4719


Ratula Beukman

Black Sash Advocacy Programme Manager

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072-174 3507


Evashnee Naidu

Black Sash Provincial Director: KwaZulu Natal

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Cell: 084-430 6133