Jean-Jacques Cornish

Rights groups slam migrant arrests in South Africa


Human rights activists have slammed South African authorities for netting at least 1 000 suspected illegal migrants in crackdown called Operation Cleansweep.

The organisation Lawyers for Human Rights won a court application yesterday (Monday) delaying the deportation of about 400 of the people detained.

The raids follow last months xenophobic attacks in Durban and Johannesburg secured a successful
court application to delay the deportation of about 400 immigrants held by the
authorities in Friday’s raid.
Immigrant workers from Zimbabwe, Malawi and other African countries were
targeted in weeks of unrest that left at least seven people dead and forced
thousands to flee their homes.
The South Africa government sent the army in to help police arrest
ringleaders behind the attacks, but it also launched a series of raids to pick
up hundreds of suspected illegal immigrants.
In the latest raid, about 400 immigrants were arrested last Friday in an
operation at the Central Methodist Church, a renowned shelter for refugees in
downtown Johannesburg.
“Large sections of police have been unleashed on people,” Steve Faulkner,
of the Coalition of Movements Against Xenophobia, told reporters.
“It was a military operation in the middle of the night… People were
herded together and taken to the police station.”
Right to Know, a campaign group, called the mass arrests “state-funded
“The raids were a heavy-handed response that have seen families being
separated and led to various human rights abuses,” Murray Hunter, spokesman
for the group.
Millions of African migrants — many of them illegal — work in South
Africa, often on construction sites or as casual labour.
Locals often blame them for stealing scarce jobs.

“We are very worried about how quick these deportations are taking place
after the manner of the raids,” said Wayne Ncube, a human rights lawyer.
The government has defended Operation Fiela, meaning “clean sweep”, and
said raids on workers’ hostels and informal settlements would continue.

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Jean-Jacques Cornish is a journalist and broadcaster who has been involved in the media all his adult life.

Starting as a reporter on his hometown newspaper, he moved briefly to then Rhodesia before returning to South Africa to become a parliamentary correspondent with the South African Press Association. He was sent to London as Sapa’s London editor and also served as special correspondent to the United Nations. He joined the then Argus group in London as political correspondent.

Returning to South Africa after 12 years abroad, he was assistant editor on the Pretoria News for a decade before becoming editor of the Star and SA Times for five years.

Since 1999 he’s been an independent journalist writing and broadcasting – mainly about Africa – for Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape
Talk, Radio France International, PressTV, Radio Live New Zealand, Business Day, Mail & Guardian, the BBC, Agence France Press,
Business in Africa, Leadership, India Today, the South African Institute for International Affairs and the Institute for Security Studies.

He has hosted current affairs talk shows on Talk Radio 702 and 567 Cape Talk. He appears as an African affairs pundit on SABC Africa and CNBC Africa.
He lectured in contemporary studies to journalism students at the Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Pretoria.

He speaks on African affairs to corporate and other audiences.
He has been officially invited as a journalist to more than 30 countries. He was the winner of the 2007 SADC award for radio journalism.

He’s been a member of the EISA team observing elections in Somaliland, Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Egypt and Tunsiai.

In October 2009 he headed a group of 39 African journalists to the 60th anniversary celebrations of the Peoples’ Republic of China.

In January 2010 he joined a rescue and paramedical team to earthquake struck Haiti.

He is immediate past president of the Alliance Francaise of Pretoria.

Jean-Jacques is a director of Giant Media. The company was given access to Nelson Mandela in his retirement years until 2009.
He is co-producer of the hour-long documentary Mandela at 90 that was broadcast on BBC in January 2009.