• 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.

    De Wet maintains that even as Soweto seem to be normalising, and promises of firmer police action came thick and fast at the time, foreign nationals across the province flagged local politics as a continuing threat to their safety.

    To read the article titled, “Xenophobia: Danger brewing for 2016 elections,” click here.

    Mail and Guardian
  • 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.

    To read the article titled, “High unemployment rate contributed in looting spree,” click here.

    SABC News
  • 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."

    To read the article titled, “Govt needs to take tough stance against racism, xenophobia,” click here.

    SABC News
  • 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.

    We think that the problem is bigger than it meets the eye. At the social level, immigrants live and run their businesses in communities. It is not a bad thing in itself but proves detrimental at this point because we are failing to manage social cohesion. It therefore means that our people are not ready for this type of socialisation. Our people are being asked to deal with someone who comes into communities without being profiled for the community to know who he is, where is coming from, what drove him out of his country and what is his status in our country. This is not just a socialisation issue but involves political decisions too. Society must be properly informed about this situation.

    Society must manage its socialisation processes and we think that much has to be done to attain stability. Education is key and nothing must be left to chance, which brings me to the next point; what was our experience when we were in exile. How were we socialised in those countries that we found ourselves in? We are not advocating for sameness in this matter but it is critical that we get a grip on control and management of all people who enter our country whether legally or otherwise. You can only show compassion when you fully appreciate circumstances of person you interact with. People need to be informed so as to make better decisions in the socialisation process.

    At the political level, it is only proper that you have institutions that helps you help others who find themselves in such a precarious situations. First, rules must be observed, people must be documented and profiled. Identification is important and circumstances of his plight if any must be known (for example, a political refugee) to our people at large so that s/he enjoys equal social protection. Second, our law enforcement agencies must also be empowered to act in a socially conscious manner through effective legal instruments assisted by communities. This can only be achieved when our actions are guided by human rights-based constitution such as ours.

    Fear is a dangerous emotion particularly if unfounded and based on unknown. The xenophobic attacks are more fear orientated. The immigrants react using unlicensed weapons and shooting children in fear of their lives and communities react in anger by burning their shops. The criminal element takes advantage of this chaos and loot. A society that lives in fear and suspicion is a recipe for constant social upheavals.

    On the economic front we are bound to face slow growth and even be stagnant. Nobody would like to invest in a country that has political and social instability where the rule of law is undermined. It is imperative to address this situation but government should take the lead and create an environment conducive for social cohesion, community safety and peace. We need to revisit our institutions particularly around immigrants coming into our country. Laws must empower us to deal with any situation in managing social interactions, be it protecting immigrants or socialising them within our communities. It cannot be left to chance.

    We have traditional authorities in our villages, municipalities in our towns and districts and metros who must take lead in the fight against xenophobia. This requires the partnership between government and civil society. Civil society should assist in educating our people about the channels open to them for addressing their queries but authorities must open their doors. Our justice system must also be robustly engaged for social justice to be effective. We call on our people to exercise restraint, respect human rights and act in a manner befitting a caring nation.

    For more about SANGOCO, refer to www.sangoco.org.za.
  • 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.

    To read the article titled, “Somali envoy in SA to discuss xenophobia,” click here.

  • 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.
    In South Africa, we have recently seen the displacement of refugees and other non-nationals due to violence and looting of their shops over the past few weeks including on the eve of this World Refugee Day.
    On this World Refugee Day, CoRMSA calls for increased recognition of the positive contributions that refugees make in South Africa. In recognising and visibly promoting these contributions beyond this day, we will be able to enlighten the general public on benefits that refugees offer the country while dispelling the many negative myths and stereotypes attributed to this group.
    This day is recognised in the same month as we remember the sacrifices made by South African youth in 1976 in struggling against oppression. It is thus befitting that we also celebrate the achievements made by refugee youth who despite being uprooted and sometimes going through traumatic experiences, are able to rise beyond these circumstances and make positive contributions towards their country of refuge.
    Recent events that resulted in the looting and displacement of foreign-owned shops poses a critical question for South Africa as a country in relation not only to the respect for the rule of law but also related to lawlessness on the part of those holding demonstrations and the country’s ability to manage this. In this regard, we therefore call for increased protection for all in South African communities and in particular vulnerable groups including those refugees engaged in small business trading in various parts of the country. By promoting safety and security for all, we are ensuring proper integration of all groups within our society.
    - Sicel’mpilo Shange-Buthane is executive director at the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa. Alfani Yoyo is advocacy officer in the same organisation. 
  • 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.

    To read the article titled, “SA 'desensitised' to xenophobia,” click here.

    The Citizen
  • 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.

    To read the article titled, “Diepsloot residents: This is not xenophobia,” click here.

    Mail & Guardian
  • 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.

    Meanwhile, Gauteng police say many foreigners who had their shops looted in Orange Farm last week have not returned to their businesses. Their shops were looted following residents’ complaints that some foreign-owned shops sold food that is not fit for human consumption.

    To read the article titled, “Poverty blamed for xenophobic attacks in Diepsloot,” click here.

    SABC News
  • 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.

    To read the article titled, “Xenophobic attacks continue,” click here.

    The Citizen
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