Raid on church despicable

As trauma counsellors working with torture survivors, many of whom are Zimbabweans, we strongly condemn last week's police raid at the Central Methodist Church.

As trauma counsellors working with torture survivors, many of whom are Zimbabweans, we strongly condemn last week's police raid at the Central Methodist Church.

Many Zimbabweans have fled the economic and political crisis in their country and church provides a humble shelter while they attempt to access documentation at home affairs. Many are innocent victims of torture and have fled police brutality in Zimbabwe.

It is alleged that the police used excessive force to arrest the people living in the church, some of whom were children and pregnant women. What was the police's motive in raiding the church? Was it influenced by xenophobic attitudes - that refugees commit crime in South Africa?

The public - and especially the police - seem unaware that international law, which South Africa is proudly party to, gives refugees the right to claim asylum here. These people also have the right not to be returned to their home country until their claim for asylum can be determined.

The raid on the church was also contrary to the spirit of Africa's renaissance and ubuntu.

In our struggle against apartheid, many freedom fighters were exiled in countries such as Zimbabwe. Let us not forget the support we got from people in Uganda, Botswana, Namibia and other African countries.

Megan Bantjes and Malose Langa, Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, Johannesburg

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