On 12 June 2019, the 31 years old German captain of Sea-Watch 3, a charity ship, rescueda group of African migrants from an inflated raft drifting off the coast of Libya.
The Sea-Watch3 spent two weeks stranded at sea as the Italian authorities refused to allow it to enter the Italian waters. The migrants on the ship became sea sick.
Their condition deteriorated to the point that some attempted to jump into the sea.
Captain Carola Rackete decided to force her way into the port of Lampedusa to save the migrants. On 28 June Captain Rackete docked her ship in Lampedusa port and offloaded the migrants. She was arrested and put into house arrest.
Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini characterized the incident as an act of war by a pirate and outlaw captain.
Captain Rachete saw her action as a moral obligation in terms of the Maritime Law which requires that ship captains are obliged to rescue people in danger at sea. She told the Guardian newspaper (UK) of 5 July 2019 that “…people’s lives matter more than any political game”. She reaffirmed that if a similar situation arises she will do it again because she saw it as “… the principle of human rights” and as “…a hope for a humane world”. This should be a great lesson to the people of South Africa who recent to presence of migrants in their country.
Some South African citizens resort to mob justice in their efforts to force migrants to return to their home countries.
Under pressure of unemployment, poverty and inequality, some South Africans perceive migrants as a threat to their livelihoods.
Yes, unfair labour- practices by employers who favour to employ cheap foreign labour or undocumented migrants or drug peddling and other unlawful activities by migrants in any country cannot be tolerated.
However such illegal activities should be dealt with through due process of law.
Much has been said about the employment of non- South African truck drivers. Such a situation could be addresses through laws and regulations. The government may wish to enforce a minimum wage of all truck drivers.
Trucking companies shall not have incentive to hire cheap labour because it will be illegal to pay some drivers less than the minimum wage.
In addition, regulations may put conditions under which a non-South African truck driver may be employed.
Such regulations shall protect the employment of South African truck drivers.
Similarly drug peddling should be curbed through tough drug laws. Law enforcement agencies should be empowered to deal harshly with drug dealers whether foreign or local. This will discourage the would be drug dealers. It is true drugs are destroying the youth throughout the world. Legalization of drugs use may encourage drug peddlers to widely distribute drugs within communities. This is not acceptable.
However, law enforcement agencies should be empowered to deal with drug peddlers not mob justice.
Small traders in South Africa who are perceived by local to be selling fake goods should be reported to municipalities. Municipalities have agencies which check the safety of products.
Such agencies should be deployed to ensure that goods being sold should be fit for human consumption. In any case traders operate under licenses.
The issuer of trading licenses controls how businesses operate. The operations of foreign traders in South Africa are a matter of law enforcement.
Thus mob justice could not be the solution. Africa could only gain the respect of the rest of the world if Africans respect themselves. The killing of fellow Africans re-enforces Afro-pessimism which views the African Continent as a hopeless place. Africa needs to unite and work for a common purpose.
The adoption of the African Free Trade Area is a step in the right direction.
The African Free Trade Arrangement cannot work if we as Africans cannot trust each other.
In the words of ship captain Carola Rachete, we should “…hope for a humane world” because “… people’s lives matter”.