Saturday, May 2, 2015

Martin van Staden ― Xenophobia in South Africa


The last few weeks have seen the second significant wave of xenophobic attacks by citizens on foreign nationals, some legally and some illegally, living in South Africa. Xenophobia has been an issue in South African society before and after our democratization in 1994, with foreigners having been assaulted variously in 1996 and 1998, when three individuals were thrown off a train by persons returning from a rally organized by the ‘Unemployed Masses of South Africa’ group, which sought to place much of the blame for the country’s vast socioeconomic issues on foreigners. 

The 2008 xenophobic riots left 62 people dead, 21 of which were citizens. Joblessness among citizens was said to be the chief cause of the attacks. Now, in April 2015, we are seeing the same pattern. The King of the Zulus, Zwelithini, is said to have started the current wave of violence by remarking to a crowd of his supporters that foreigners must pack up and leave the country. According to a BBC report dated 19 April; six individuals have already been killed. Thousands, many of whom are refugees, have had to move into camps for their own safety. Foreign governments have expressed serious intentions to start repatriating their citizens from South Africa.

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