CAPE TOWN — South Africa will seek a review of
a decision granting one of its white citizens asylum
in Canada, which the ruling party has said is racist,
the deputy foreign minister told parliament Thursday.
Sue van der Merwe said the decision to grant
refugee status to someone on the basis that
he was persecuted by blacks "shows a lack
of familiarisation with the facts and reality
of South African society."
"While we have incredibly good bilateral relations
with the Canadian government we will be pursuing
this matter and following diplomatic procedure
in order to express with the Canadian government
our views on this matter."
A decision by Canada's immigration board
to grant the Cape Town born Brandon Huntley,
31, refugee status has caused
a race debate in South Africa.
Huntley told The Star newspaper Wednesday
that he had won asylum because he fears that
he could face violent persecution for being white,
a claim the ruling African National Congress (ANC)
dismissed as "sensational".
"We find the claim by Huntley to have been attacked
seven times by Africans due his skin colour...
sensational and alarming," the ANC said
in a statement.
"Canada's reasoning for granting Huntley
a refugee status can only serve
to perpetuate racism," it added.
Huntley claims he was attacked seven times,
including three stabbings, by blacks who
called him a "white dog" and a "settler"
during attempted robberies and muggings.
But he said he never reported the crimes
to police, nor had he approached
the government about the attacks.
"I refuse to talk to the government,"
he told the paper.
He refused to discuss the details of his case,
saying he feared his family still living
in South Africa could face reprisals,
but claimed he had highlighted the problems
of modern South Africa.
"I've opened people's eyes," Huntley
told The Star.
Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board
said privacy laws prevented them
from commenting on the case.
"We cannot comment on refugee claims.
This type of claim is heard in private,"
spokesman Stephane Malepart told AFP.
South Africa's main Jewish group also
raised concerns about the decision, pointing out
that all South Africans suffer from
the nation's alarming crime rate,
with an average of 50 murders a day.
"If anything black South Africans are more
vulnerable to crime due to the sad historical
reality of higher poverty levels
in their communities," said Zev Krengel,
head of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies.Link here
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