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African National Congress on derogatory comments directed at South Africa by the Leader of the opposition in Victoria, Australia

26 January 2017

The African National Congress (ANC) notes the unfortunate comments by a prominent Australian politician that seek to portray South Africa in a negative manner: more specifically the city of Johannesburg as crime-infested.

Late Wednesday a group of inmates escaped from a youth detention facility in Victoria, Australia, leading to a manhunt being launched. The seven inmates who fled facility located 100kms north of the city of Melbourne, are still on the run, having evaded capture.

According to reports, the escapes have led to criticism of the way in which the Victoria government manages the youth justice system, prompting the Leader of the Opposition in the Parliament of Victoria, Matthew Guy MP to call for the sacking of the Premier - saying the current government was 'standing by and allowing Melbourne to become the Johannesburg of the South Pacific."

These comments are regrettable, and feed into lazy stereotypes of African cities as crime havens. They serve to tarnish the reputation of the City of Johannesburg - known widely as the gateway to Africa; and regularly cited amongst several indices as world-class city. Drawing South Africa - with a well established reputation as a leading tourism destination, into the political frays of Victoria state, is unfortunate and unbecoming of a senior Australian politician.

What is further regrettable is that the Australian MP would likely gain support for his comments from the Mayor of the City of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba, who regularly rubbishes the very city he leads on media platforms. On a number of occasions Mayor Mashaba and his party the Democratic Alliance (DA) have described Johannesburg as crime-riddled, going on to blame 'foreigners' for the crime.

The ANC hopes that in future Mayor Mashaba and his organization will consider the far-reaching impact of their disparaging remarks - for in essence the Leader of the Opposition in Victoria, Australia is merely paraphrasing Mayor Mashaba.

Such words are an insult to the residents of the City of Johannesburg and to the countless men and women who work for the City, and who remain dedicated to sustaining the city's reputation as a place of choice to work and live.

The ANC calls on the High Commission of Australia in Pretoria to clarify the comments made by Mr. Matthew Guy MP.

Issued by the African National Congress

Edna Molewa +27 76 462 5529
Chairperson: ANC NEC Sub-Committee on International Relations
Zizi Kodwa +27 82 330 4910
National Spokesperson