Xenophobic attacks - pattern changing

2012-07-24 22:35
Police arrests suspects in connection with xenophobic attacks in Botshabelo, in the Free State. (File, Volksblad)

Police arrests suspects in connection with xenophobic attacks in Botshabelo, in the Free State. (File, Volksblad)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories


  • Pirates of Polokwane
    The 13th annual collection of Zapiro cartoons from the Mail& Guardian, Sunday Times and Independent... Now R126.00
    buy now
Johannesburg - Attacks against foreigners this year are part of a changing pattern connecting legitimate protests to xenophobic violence, an expert said on Tuesday.

Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in SA spokesperson Gwada Majange said some of the six reported incidents this year were examples of a new type of xenophobic attack.

They 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," Majange said.

The six reported attacks this year had resulted in the injury of at least eight victims, with 42 shops and businesses burnt or looted, 273 people arrested and more than 600 displaced.

The first one was in February, when eight foreigners were assaulted in Doornkuil, near Johannesburg.

The men, from Zimbabwe and Malawi, were sleeping in their shack when five youths armed with knobkerries and clubs attacked and robbed them.

Police could not say for certain whether the motive for the attack was xenophobia or robbery

However, they noted that resentment could have been a factor, as all eight men worked for a local construction company in the area.

This was followed by four nights of looting around Thabong, in the Free State. More than 20 businesses, mostly owned by Bangladeshis, were looted and 42 people were arrested.

These attacks began as unemployment protests, after some local youths were unable to get jobs at Welkom's mines.

The protests soon spread to surrounding localities, including Mshenguville and Themba.

Local police did not ascribe a motive to the looting, but did not rule out xenophobia.

The Thabong attacks were followed by similar incidents over three days in Kutloanong which resulted in damage to 16 businesses and seven arrests. Police had to escort foreigners out of the area.

Free State Premier Ace Magashule decried the attacks as a violation of the Constitution.

"These attacks violate the fundamental principles of our Constitution, which rejects discrimination and intolerance on the basis of race, creed or geographic origin," Magashule said.

Later that month, a strike by miners at the Impala mine near Phokeng, in North West, culminated in an attack that resulted in 32 shops being looted and almost 100 foreigners displaced in nearby Freedomville.

Almost 130 people were arrested.

North West police spokesperson Brigadier Thulani Ngubani, while noting that most of the victims were foreigners, denied that the attacks were xenophobic.

He said they were targeted against the businesses, not the foreigners who owned them.

Reports of xenophobic attacks went quiet for the next few months until May when residents of Phagameng township near Modimolle, in Limpopo, attacked and looted shops owned by Pakistanis and Ethiopians.

About 30 foreign families were displaced and over a hundred people were arrested.

This was sparked by the arrest of a Pakistani man for the alleged killing of his South African girlfriend.

Shops petrol-bombed

The Free State was again the location of xenophobic attacks a month later when businesses and homes owned by Somalians, Chinese and Ethiopians were looted and burned in Botshabelo.

Over 500 people were displaced in these attacks and more than 100 had been arrested by the time the violence died down.

However, just as one location quietened, another flared up with the petrol-bombing of shops owned by foreigners in Beacon Valley, in the Western Cape.

Police said four tuckshops owned by two Bangladeshis, a Somali and a Pakistani were set alight within minutes of each other. One person was injured.

Majange said the incidents in Free State, where xenophobic attacks followed protests against unemployment and the strike by miners, were an example of the new type of xenophobic attack.

"It seems these non-nationals are being used as scapegoats for bigger issues that people are trying to challenge," she said.

However, she added that at least one of the xenophobic attacks this year was linked to simple extortion and organised crime.

Majange said the spaza shop owners in Beacon Valley appeared to have been attacked as the result of a protection racket run by local gangs.

"The case was around a protection fee that gangs requested from shop owners," she said.

While the motivation may have been different, the choice of victim was no accident.

"I'm sure there are some South African spaza shop owners who didn't have the money to pay the gangsters, but for some reason people feel it is easier to vent their anger on non-nationals," Majange said.

She said this came from a perception that it was easier to get away with a crime against a foreigner.

Read more on:    polokwane  |  cape town  |  bloemfontein  |  xenophobia

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining

Inside News24


New GIF keyboard on iOS for added fun!

Soon sending an LOL! or facepalm will be so much more fun!


For chic geeks...

Puppy goes crazy over iPad game
Printable solar panels will bring exciting new opportunities!
Now there’s a special lane for texting while walking
LOL! 7 brutally honest texts from parents

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Creditors clerk Kr311

Cape Town
Kontak Recruitment
R10 000 - R12 000 Per Month

.Net Technical Lead

Cape Town
Communicate Cape Town IT
R50 000 Per Month

Senior Dev, strong C#

Cape Town
E-Merge IT Recruitment
R35 000 - R50 000 Per Month

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Pre-order your iPhone 6 at kalahari.com

Hurry and pre-order your own iPhone 6 now at SA’s favourite online store!

Bargain box – 60% off

Reduced prices, very limited stock. While stocks last. Hurry and shop now!

Mind blow low prices on electronics

Get either the Prestigio multiphone or Proline tablet 7” tablet for only R699. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Barbie toys

Save 30% on all Barbie toys and accessories. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Baby extravanganza month at kalahari.com

Celebrate baby month with a wide range of awesome baby products. Offers valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


As the Moon moves out of restless Gemini into sensitive Cancer today you are able to relax your active mind and be more receptive...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.