Xenophobia: Danger Brewing for 2016 Elections

In a xenophobic atmosphere ripe for political exploitation, only a few stand to lose as much as foreign nationals.

In his analysis, Phillip de Wet, says that foreign traders in some Gauteng townships say they are trading normally, following an incident in which their spaza shops were cleared out by mobs as police stood idle or – in a small number of cases – were accused of aiding and abetting looters.

Joblessness Rate Contributed in Looting Spree

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says they are hopeful that attacks on foreign nationals that took place in Soweto are coming to an end.

Speaking on the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s Morning Live programme, SAHRC chairperson, Lawrence Mushwana, said it is unacceptable that foreign national are being targeted and their shops are being looted.

Attacks on foreign-owned shops were sparked on Monday, after a 14-year-old boy was killed by a Somali shopkeeper in Soweto, Johannesburg.

SA Urged to Tackle Xenophobia and Racism

Navi Pillay, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights says that South Africa urgently needs a national action plan to fight racism and xenophobia.

Pillay, who was addressing the Women's Network in Durban, believes that government should consult the whole community on what form of action needs to be taken to address racism and xenophobia.

Pillay, who is also a former International Criminal Court judge, maintains that: "I am always a human right protector and defender and I will continue to serve but in an informal capacity in whatever way I can."

Registering a Concern Over Current Xenophobia Experience

South Africa has been plagued by xenophobic experience causing periodic social instability particularly in our metropolitan areas. It has become a course for concern for the South African National NGO Coalition (SANGOCO) and other non-governmental organisations. Our community safety is being threatened, lawlessness is creeping in, criminality is on the rise and law enforcement agencies are struggling to cope. Some among us are even suggesting the involvement of the army.

Somali and South Africa Tackle Xenophobia

A Somali envoy has met the South African authorities in a bid to ease tensions stirred by recurring attacks on Somali refugees in the country.

Somalia's deputy foreign minister, Jamal Barrow, says his visit was also a fact-finding trip following recent violence which has seen looting of foreign-owned shops and the death of a Somali shopkeeper.

Barrow states that the two countries - Somalia and South Africa - have found a common understanding, common action and common sentiments on how they can avert xenophobic incidents in the future.

Protect and Celebrate Contributions Made by Refugees

The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) observes World Refugee Day 2013 by calling for more recognition of the positive contributions refugees make in their host countries. The world observes World Refugee Day on 20 June every year. 2013 is no different. Hundreds of events have been organised to commemorate this day. The sad reality is that people continue to be displaced on a daily basis as we continue to witness human suffering because of conflicts in the Middle East, Africa and various parts of the world.

South Africa 'Desensitised' to Xenophobia

The Centre for Human Rights (CHR) says that South Africans are becoming desensitised to crime and xenophobic attacks.

In a press statement, CHR points out that, "We fear that xenophobic attacks are becoming regular phenomena, and the South African population is becoming increasingly desensitised."

The organisation further argues that while the law prohibits heinous deeds such as sexual and violent crimes, the South African population has grown apathetic to these issues with little hope of them being addressed.

Diepsloot Attacks Not Xenophobia, Say Residents

Both local and international residents of Diepsloot have denied claims that xenophobia is behind the recent violence in the township.

Zimbabwean national and long-term resident of Diepsloot, Agnes Tshavengwa, argues that, "This isn't xenophobia, people are just jealous of the businesses making money and want to steal. They don't hate foreigners, they are just criminals."

Her comments follows an incident in which approximately 80 small-scale shops and informal retailers were looted following the killing of two Zimbabweans, allegedly at the hands of a Somali shop owner.

Spazas Looted in Xenophobic Attacks

Residents of Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg, say the killing of two Zimbabwean nationals and widespread looting of shops that are owned by foreign nationals are the result of frustrations over joblessness and poverty.

Police say the suspect shot the two after they tried to rob him, adding that residents then tried to destroy the shop.

CoRMSA Comments on Recent Xenophobic Attacks

The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) says some of the six reported incidents this year were examples of a new type of xenophobic attack.

CoRMSA spokesperson, Gwada Majange, points out that these attacks originated from protests about service delivery or unemployment.

"You've seen informal traders protest [against the] municipality, but in the end they directed their anger toward the spaza shop owners," explains Majange.


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