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African Commission on
Human and Peoples' Rights

Press Statement on the extra-judicial killing of Elvis Nyathi and other systematic attacks against Immigrant Africans living in South Africa

08 April 2022, Banjul, the Republic of The Gambia


The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Commission), through its Country Rapporteur for the Republic of South Africa Honourable Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso, is deeply concerned about reports of spates of systematic attacks targeting nationals of other African countries living in South Africa in the context of the campaign by Operation Dudula against undocumented foreign nationals whom the organizers of Operation Dudula blame for taking jobs and business opportunities from South Africans and for crimes.

From the reports reaching the African Commission, actions undertaken in the context of operation Dudula are resulting in violence against allegedly undocumented nationals of other African countries living in South Africa and destruction of property and businesses. In the most brutal incident shown in video footages and images circulating on social media, Elvis Nyathi, a 43-year-old Zimbabwean man reported to be a family man and a father of four and a resident of Diepsloot, have been gruesomely burnt to death after his attackers poured a flammable liquid and set fire on his body.

The Commission denounces this tragic and avoidable death of a fellow African and human being, and the violation of his right to life – a fundamental right enshrined in Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (the Charter), and which underpins all other human rights.

The African Commission is further alarmed and deeply concerned about reports of endorsements of the actions of Operation Dudula by public figures and some popular media, which acts could further serve to exacerbate the ongoing violence and incite violence by other groups or persons in the country.

Recalling its previous statements on xenophobic attacks carried out on other Africans living in South Africa, the Commission strongly condemns the resurgence of such violent attacks through the acts of Operation Dudula, which instead of following due process of law is imposing vigilante justice, resulting in deadly violence and destruction of property. Such attacks not only constitute violations of the African Charter, but are also contrary to the principles and ideals of African solidarity cherished in the African Charter. The Commission is deeply concerned that that the campaigns of these groups, could lead to yet another eruption of widespread xenophobic violence in the country, if not promptly and appropriately addressed by the Government of South Africa, in line with the established national and international rule of law and human rights standards by which South Africa is bound.

The Commission hereby reiterates the obligations of South Africa under the African Charter to ensure that all persons, including foreign nationals, enjoy the rights and freedoms guaranteed in the African Charter without discrimination, including the rights to life, dignity and the security of their persons and properties, and the right to equality, as enshrined under Articles 3, 4, 5 and 14 of the charter.

In light of the foregoing, whilst expressing its solidarity with the family of Elvis Nyathi and other victims affected by the acts of violence of Operation Dudula, and also welcoming the statement of the International Relations Minister, Doctor Naledi Pandor, which condemned violence against foreign nationals, the African Commission, calls on the competent authorities of South Africa:

1. To carry out most urgently, prompt, independent, impartial, exhaustive and effective investigations into the reported acts of these groups and the ensuing alleged violations in order to identify, apprehend, prosecute and punish all the perpetrators of violence against foreigners of African nationals living in South Africa including the brutal killing of Elvis Nyathi that the said investigations reveal, in accordance with the standards in the Constitution of South Africa, the African Charter and other relevant regional and international human rights instruments;

2. To ensure that the victims and their family members receive protection and have access to justice including for reparations for the losses they suffered; and  

3. To take appropriate measures for ending violent actions and threat of such actions taken against nationals from other African countries living in South Africa without due process of the law and for de-escalating all forms of all forms of hate speeches and rhetoric directed at such persons including by public figures, in line with its national laws as well as its obligations under the African Charter and other international human rights instruments to which it is party;


Commissioner Solomon Ayele Dersso,

Country Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Republic of South Africa