White South African granted refugee status

Posted by admin on Aug 28th, 2009

By DONNA CASEY, Sun Media, 28th August 2009, 8:09pm

An Ottawa man has been granted refugee status after an immigration board panel ruled he would be likely be persecuted if he returned back to his native South Africa — because he is white. A Canadian immigration and refugee board panel ruled Thursday that Brandon Huntley, 31, could stay in Canada because he presented “clear and convincing proof of the state’s inability or unwillingness to protect him.” “I find that the claimant would stand out like a ‘sore thumb’ due to his colour in any part of the country,” tribunal panel chair William Davis said in his decision to grant Huntley refugee status.

It’s likely the first time a white South African has been granted refugee status in Canada claiming persecution from black South Africans, said Russell Kaplan, Huntley’s immigration lawyer.

“There’s a hatred of what we did to them and it’s all about the colour of your skin,” Huntley said of the violence wrought by black attackers on many white South Africans.

Huntley first came to Canada on a six-month work permit in 2004 to work as a carnival attendant. He returned home to South Africa and came back to work in Canada in 2005 for a year and stayed illegally for an additional year until he made a refugee claim in April 2008.

Growing up in Mowbray, a town near Cape Town, Huntley was attacked seven times — including three stabbings — by black South Africans during attempted robberies and muggings.

During these attacks, Huntley told the refugee board that he was called “a white dog” and “a settler,” a reference to South Africa’s colonial past based on racial apartheid.

“If you have got the money, you can protect yourself,” Huntley said of the armed security guards wealthy white South Africans hire to protect themselves.

Huntley’s “subjective fear of persecution remained constant and consistent” up to the time he made his refugee claim, Davis noted in his decision on Huntley’s claim.

The decision also took into account testimony by Laura Kaplan, 41, the sister of Huntley’s lawyer, who immigrated to Canada last year from her native South Africa.

Laura Kaplan testified about being threatened by armed black South Africans and the torture of her brother Robert in 1997 when a gang of black men broke into his house, tortured him for eight hours, shot him three times and left him for dead.

Davis said the evidence of Huntley and Laura Kaplan “show a picture of indifference and inability or unwillingness” of the South African government to protect “White South Africans from persecution by African South Africans.”


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