What about Refugee Rights, Mr President?

27 Feb 2018 - 13:45

Dr Fatima Khan, Director of the Refugee Rights Clinic, writes a punchy open letter to President Ramaphosa in response to the complete omission of refugees from his SONA speech.


"I, like many other South Africans, sat down on that Friday night to watch your State of the Nation Address. I listened to your address with the view, not to criticise, but rather to reaffirm my commitment to South Africa and see where I can help.

What stood out to me was your statement that South Africa belongs to all who live in it and your commitments made to addressing poverty and creating jobs for our youth.

Additionally, the comments on having the “most hospitable people”, with “the most beautiful country” and calling on “all South Africans to open their homes and their hearts to the world” caught my attention.

You spoke of a new dawn and recognised that sometimes we fail, merely because we fail to implement our laws. One glaring example of this is the treatment of refugees in South Africa, in particular refugee children. South Africa boasts one of the most robust and liberal constitutions in the world and in the very least it should protect the dignity of everyone present in South Africa, but sadly this is not the case. I have witnessed our laws fail those most vulnerable in society."