In response to the events of the past few weeks the KwaZulu-Natal Provincial government has urgently established an independent Special Reference Group on Migration and Community Integration in KwaZulu-Natal. The focus of the Reference Group is to investigate the immediate and underlying causes of the attacks and advise the Premier. It will conduct consultations with organised and representative organisations, affected communities and persons.
The Reference Group will be chaired by Judge Navi Pillay, previous United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, with attorney Comfort Ngidi as Vice-Chair, and Paddy Kearney, Vasu Gounden, Karen Lotter, Muzi Ntombela and Stephanie Miller as members.
The Reference Group held its first meeting on 17 April 2015, and will submit a preliminary report within three months, followed by a final report on or before 31 October 2015. Secretariat support to the Reference Group will be provided by the African Centre for the Constructive Resolution of Disputes (ACCORD), based in Durban. ACCORD is an independent conflict management institute that has a more than 20 year history of working throughout Africa to bring African solutions to challenges on the continent.
Judge Navi Pillay was United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2008 to 2014. A previous judge of the High Court of South Africa, she has also served as a judge of the International Criminal Court and President of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.
Comfort Ngidi is practicing attorney, and Director of his own law firm based in Durban. He was previously a Commissioner with the Judge Alexander Commission, Coordinator for the Centre for Community and Labour Studies, and part-time law lecturer at the University of Zululand.
Paddy Kearney is a consultant to the KwaZulu-Natal Christian Council and chairs the Denis Hurley Centre Trust. He was the founding Director for the Diakonia Council of Churches.
Vasu Gounden is the Executive Director of ACCORD. He is an attorney, mediator, trainer and researcher in the field of conflict resolution and has been involved in mediation work in Somalia, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Vasu Gounden was also appointed by the South African Government as an Advocate for Social Cohesion.
Karen Lotter is a writer and photographer, media trainer and website designer. She further creates and runs social media campaigns and teaches online writing courses at SA Writers College.
Muzi Ntombela is a graduate of the then University of Natal and is Chief Executive Officer of Process Litho, a print company based in Durban. He is a council member at Ethekwini TVET College, an active community developer and very involved in church activities in KZN and beyond.
Stephanie Miller is a multi-business owner based in Durban and is involved with community projects. In the 1990s she worked as an investigator with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and was an Operations Centre Coordinator for the National Peace Accord.