Operation Fiela by the SA Police Service was meant to eliminate criminal activities and was not a form of harassment or xenophobia, African National Congress secretary Gwede Mantashe said on Sunday.
“Operation Fiela strives to apprehend and disarm those with illegal firearms in society, it is meant to discover and disarm everybody, foreign and national in the country,” Mantashe told journalists in Johannesburg following a three-day ANC national executive committee meeting.
“The operation is not harassment at all. This is an effort to regulate everyone in the country.”
The operation was started after xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals that started in Isipingo, Durban in March, before spreading to Gauteng.
The massive operation, which saw police, backed by the army, raid hostels and informal settlements, especially in townships, has come under fire from human rights activists who accused government of targeting the poor.
Hundreds of undocumented foreign nationals were also arrested and illegal weapons seized during the raids.
Mantashe said human rights organisations should realise that illegal firearms in communities was an attack on other people’s rights.
“I don’t know how human rights organisations can be opposed to that, one you have illegal firearms in communities, other people’s rights in those communities are infringed upon. Every persons’ human right includes the safety of others.”
Society would suffer from extremism if people were untouchable as far as the rule of law was concerned, he added.