Johannesburg – The pronouncements of the Iraqi Ambassador to South Africa urging the South African government to adopt an aggressive approach to “returning IS fighters” to South Africa is counter-productive and must be challenged.

The response of the Department of International Relations and Co-operation has been rightly to demand evidence to Iraqi Ambassador Saad Kindeel’s claims that there are “fighters” making their way home.

Such pronouncements aggravate suspicion and fear of young Muslims, particularly those of a conservative religious persuasion. They also serve as pressure from foreign interests for the South African government to enact counter-extremism programmes which further US and foreign interests in South Africa.

Karen Jayes, spokesperson for CAGE Africa, said:

“CAGE Africa is aware of one family wanting to return to South Africa after leaving ISIS-controlled territory in Iraq. The family of seven including a young baby are currently stranded in a refugee camp in Jordan. They regret their decision to leave South Africa, are in fear for their lives and have appealed to the South African government for assistance. The approach to such individuals should be one of compassion, particularly when there are woman and children involved.”

“Should individuals be returning from IS-controlled territory it is more than likely with a level of regret for their actions. South African security services should objectively assess this without foreign outside interference and enlist community support for their reintegration into society, and return to a normal, peaceful life. Returnees should be investigated for any wrongdoing with proper due process according to existing criminal laws.”

“The people of Iraq deserve our sympathy, not just for the atrocities committed by ISIS, but also due to the atrocities committed by the Iraqi government forces and the United States coalition, which in the battle to reclaim Mosul between February 19 and June 19 this year alone, killed 3,706 civilians.”

Amnesty International has claimed that the actions of the Iraqi government forces, US forces and their allies, like the actions of ISIS, include rape, torture and civilian killings, and amount to war crimes. These perspectives are somehow lost in the hysterical media coverage of IS, but it is crucial that they are figured in when journalists choose to quote the views of members of these governments in the press.”


Press enquiries:
Karen Jayes


CC image courtesy of Håkan Dahlström Photography on Flickr

(NOTE: CAGE represents cases of individuals based on the remit of our work. Supporting a case does not mean we agree with the views or actions of the individual. Content published on CAGE may not reflect the official position of our organisation.)