Migrants fear attacks after SWC

2010-05-27 17:23

Johannesburg – There was a strong sense among migrants that xenophobic attacks would break out after the Soccer World Cup, academics warned on Thursday.

"It should be holding up a red flag for us," said Professor David Everatt, the executive director of the Gauteng City Region Observatory (GCRO).

"If the attitudes of xenophobia remain... we have a problem."

He was speaking at the release of a GCRO survey into the quality of life in Gauteng which was conducted among 6 636 residents.

GCRO senior researcher Annsilla Nyar told Sapa she believed the end of the World Cup would leave many people, who had high expectations of material benefits, disappointed.

"Life will pretty much return to normal... The World Cup will end and then we will have local government elections in a few months' time.

"It creates a heightening of tensions... and these kind of tensions can degenerate into xenophobia. It's a real recipe for disaster."

In 2008, 62 people were killed and 150 000 displaced in a wave of xenophobic attacks that started in Gauteng.

United on one issue

The GCRO survey showed that Gautengers were united on one issue - disliking foreigners.

"What do we all agree on? We hate foreigners," said Everatt.

The GCRO is a think tank that was created by the Gauteng provincial government in partnership with the universities of Johannesburg and the Witwatersrand.

Its survey showed that 69% of residents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement that "foreigners are taking benefits meant for South Africans".

Everatt said normally in such surveys people with different education levels held different views, because more educated people were often more open-minded.

But on the issue of foreigners, the majority shared the same perception.

He said 75% of people with no education and 73% of people with tertiary education agreed with the statement that foreigners were taking benefits from South Africans.

Also, 69% of people living in formal dwellings and 73% of people in informal dwellings agreed on the statement.


The perception was the highest amongst Coloureds (77%) and Africans (72%), followed by Indians (56%) and whites (56%).

The highest scores were in Mogale City (78%), Lesedi (73%) and Kungwini (72%).

Everatt said he had just concluded another study on xenophobia, which showed a fear among foreigners that attacks would resurface after the World Cup.

"There's a strong sense amongst migrant communities... that xenophobic attacks will break out."

He said while the Soccer World Cup was a great opportunity to unite South Africans, it also held the risk of promoting "an exclusive image that South Africa is for South Africans".

Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane called on residents to be tolerant, saying this was a "province of migrants" who had helped develop its infrastructure.

"They are fighting for a space to put up a shack.... they are fighting for a space to sell tomatoes to you...

"What I never understand, is that when Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs play, we are all in favour of those foreign players but at the end of the game we are fighting about who is putting up a shack where," said Mokonyane.