Media Statement by Deputy Minister Ebrahim at the conclusion of the visit by the Somalia Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr Jamal Barrow, 2 July 2013
Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen,
Our briefing today will focus on the outcomes of the bilateral consultation I had with Dr Jamal Barrow, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Somalia earlier today. Once again, it is my pleasure to welcome Dr Barrow on his second visit this year to South Africa.
Ladies and Gentleman
Let me firstly take this opportunity to congratulate Dr Barrow, the Government and people of Somalia on the occasion of their national day, celebrated last night in Mayfair, Johannesburg.
In this regard, it is also important to inform you that, during his previous visit to South Africa, Dr Barrow attended the inauguration of the Diplomatic Training for Somali Officials, which is a contribution that South Africa has pledged in assisting our Somali brothers and sisters to build capacity in their institutions that will then support lasting peace and development. We remain committed to training more Somali diplomats in the near future.
South Africa has been consistent in pledging support to the new Federal Government of Somalia and we have been working closely with Dr Barrow’s office to ensure that the work South Africa undertakes in respect of Somalia, is directly linked to the vision that the Somali people have for themselves, as embodied in President Hasan Sheikh Mohamoud’s Six Pillar Policy.
The very first project we undertook as DIRCO following the inauguration of the new Somali government was to gather key individuals in the Diaspora at a conference held in Cape Town in September last year. We consciously chose to do this as a demonstration of the unity and integration of our peoples, and we had hoped that we would be able to send a strong message to Somalis all over the world that reconciliation and peace is possible. We wanted to share our own experiences of transition with the Somali community, with whom we have become so familiar. We wanted the world to recognise that Somalis have a safe and secure home in South Africa, without the confines of refugee camps. We also wanted to demonstrate that Somalis granted asylum need not despair, as they have equal opportunities to all rights afforded to our own nationals and that this has allowed for them to build skills, acquire an education and learn from life experiences that could be used to rebuild their own country.
We were therefore extremely disheartened when we learnt of brutal attacks on Somali (and other) nationals in some of our townships. I must reiterate the words that have been echoed over and over again since those incidents – South Africa belongs to ALL who live in it!
We were appalled by the criminal acts of violence, looting and displacement of people who came here with a hope for a better life, away from the conflicts in their own countries, especially since we owe a debt to the continent, including our brothers and sisters in Somalia, who supported us in our darkest hour of apartheid.
We heard the calls from the Prime Minister of Somalia to protect Somali nationals in South Africa and President Jacob Zuma met with President Hasan Sheikh Mohamoud in the margins of the TICAD Summit in Japan to assure him of our commitment to bringing the perpetrators of these heinous crimes to justice.
We therefore welcomed the request by President Mohamoud to deploy a fact-finding mission led by Dr Barrow to assess the situation on the ground and to engage with South African authorities to ensure that we avert such incidents in the future.
Ladies and Gentleman,
I am pleased to also report that Dr Barrow and his team have had fruitful engagements with various members of the Somali community, including the Somali elders. They have also had the opportunity to visit some of the townships and view first-hand the conditions of Somali nationals living in South Africa.
Dr Barrow met yesterday with the Minister of Home Affairs, Ms Naledi Pandor. Some of the discussions focussed on the legal repatriation of Somalis who wish to relinquish their asylum status and return to their home country now that there is greater hope for peace and stability. This will be done in line with the provisions of the various international treaties and protocols. Minister Pandor also indicated that once South African authorities receive necessary documents from the Somali government, official recognition will be given to Somali travel documents and passports, should they be verified as legitimate and secure.
Dr Barrow also met with the Deputy Minister of Police, Ms Makhotso Soyu, during which they discussed the safety of Somalis in the country and efforts by the South African Police Services to identify the perpetrators of violence against Somali nationals in South Africa.
Ladies and Gentleman,
During my meeting this morning with Deputy Minister Barrow, he expressed his satisfaction with the efforts of the South African Government to address the concerns of the Government of Somalia, as I am sure he will inform you himself.
These incidents in which lives of innocent Somalis were lost are indeed regrettable and we cannot over-emphasise our condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims.
I would like to take the opportunity to also express our deepest condolences to the families of the South African nationals who were killed in the attack on the United Nations Office in Somalia on 19 June 2013. We know that the Somali government and the international community, including the African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM) are working tirelessly and at great risks to bring security and stability to the country.
Neither the violent incidents in South Africa against Somalis nor the terrorist attacks in Mogadishu will impede our commitment and resolve to strengthen the bilateral relations between Somalia and South Africa.
I thank you
Enquiries: Mr Clayson Monyela, Spokesperson for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, 082 884 5974.
Issued by the Department of International Relations and Cooperation
OR Tambo Building
460 Soutpansberg Road