ANC: Canada refugee ruling racist

The ANC labelled Brandon Huntley's claims South Africa’s ruling African National Congress has condemned as “racist” a decision by Canada to grant a white South African man refugee status.

Brandon Huntley, 31, had told officials in Canada he could not return to South Africa after seven different attacks.

They included three stabbings, which he said he had suffered as a result of his skin colour.

But ANC spokesman Brian Sokutu told the BBC that the decision would “only serve to perpetuate racism” in South Africa.

“We take this matter very seriously because it has something to do with tarnishing the image of the country,” he said.

Race is a sensitive issue in the country, still scarred by decades of white-minority rule, which ended in 1994.

Hundreds of thousands of white South Africans have left the country since the end of apartheid, many citing rising crime and the difficulty of finding jobs.


Mr Sokutu said President Jacob Zuma was committed to fighting crime in South Africa, which has an annual murder rate of 18,000, but not on the basis of colour.

“We’re committed to creating a stable and safe environment for all South Africans, regardless of the colour of their skin and we think that dealing with crime along racial lines can only serve to divide the South African nation,” he told the BBC’s World Today programme.

Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board ruled last week that Mr Huntley could stay in Canada.

Canada’s Ottawa Sun newspaper quoted the panel’s chairman, William Davis, as saying he would stand out like a “sore thumb” due to his colour in any part of South Africa.

Mr Huntley’s lawyer Russell Kaplan said the asylum was granted because of discrimination – not only over crime – but also because as a white man he would find it difficult to get a job.

“The big question throughout was – was this just an act of criminality or was there a racial motivation? And every single time there was evidence that they were not just victims of criminality, that there was a racial component in the incidents,” he told the BBC’s Network Africa programme.

Bridgette Lightfoot of Homecoming Revolution, which encourages white South Africans to return home, disputed the claims.

“I myself have lived overseas for six years and I’ve been back for eight months and we really don’t feel there’s this racial prejudice against white people,” she told the BBC.


The South African Institute of Race Relations said the country does still face racial challenges.

But in a statement the institute’s deputy head Frans Cronje said he found the reports of “the persecution of white South Africans to be largely without foundation.”

On the streets of Johannesburg, opinions were mixed about the case.

“Actually I think this guy is sick, because if you check, we’re living in South Africa but none of those issues are happening to us,” Aluwani Matshavana told Reuters news agency.

But another black South African, Aluwani Raswini, had sympathy for Mr Huntley’s grievance.

“I agree with him on that part, because South Africa is mostly focusing on black people too much these days. White people aren’t given enough emphasis. Basically, they’ve just paid for their sins for just too long,” he said.

White people still dominate Africa’s biggest economy, with average living standards far higher than for other racial groups.

But some complain they are being deprived of jobs by the government’s black affirmative action programme.

The government says this is needed to help the black majority recover from years of discrimination during apartheid.