Survey shows South Africans don’t trust foreigners

2012-10-09 15:00

Six in 10 South Africans do not trust foreigners, a survey revealed today.

The distrust of foreigners among locals had increased from 60% in 2008 to 67% in 2011.

The survey was conducted among 2 400 adult South Africans from rural and urban areas in October and November last year, by Afrobarometer in partnership with the Institute for Democracy in Southern Africa.

The data collection was done by Citizens Surveys. It was aimed at gauging South Africans’ perceptions and attitudes on migration.

Forty-four percent of the respondents disagreed with providing protection for asylum seekers in South Africa.

Close to a third (32%) would take action against migrants moving into their neighbourhood.

The report on the survey was released at the University of Witwatersrand (Wits), in Braamfontein.

Anyway Chingwete, Afrobarometer project manager, said the findings showed that South Africa had a long way to go in dealing with negative sentiments towards foreigners.

“We need first to accept that we are less receptive to foreigners ... so that we’ll be able to address the problem.

“The government has to take an active role to educate its people to accept foreigners ... also [to] teach locals that there are some rights awarded to foreigners,” said Chingwete.

The survey also showed that just above a third (36%) of the sample would stop foreigners from operating businesses in South Africa.

Sixty-three percent said the government had failed to adequately manage migration issues in South Africa.

On which foreigners should be allowed to have South African citizenship, 62% said a wife of a South African was a good candidate.

Only 48% of the respondents felt that a husband of a South African woman should get citizenship.

But Jean Pierre Misago, a researcher at the African Centre for Migration and Society at Wits, said the sentiments expressed in the survey were not unique to South Africans.

“They [negative views] have been found in other parts of the world such as Europe, Asia, and in the US.

“The sentiments come from the fear of the unknown. We tend to think that people who are not from us can create some kind of danger,” he said.

Misago said negative attitudes toward outsiders were in the open in most societies in the world.

“The difference in South Africa is that these attitudes seem to be more pervasive and more South Africans, than anywhere else, are willing to express their feelings in action in order to prevent people from coming into their country,” he said.

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