More than 250 xenophobic attacks in past 8 years, says ISS

  • The public violence monitor has recorded over 200 xenophobic attacks and related incidents in over eight years.
  • The ISS said the demand in these attacks was often the same - that the undocumented leave the country and that jobs be reserved for locals.
  • Crime was identified as one of the drivers on the attacks on foreign born migrants.

The public violence monitor had recorded more than 250 xenophobic attacks and related incidents in over eight years, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) said on Tuesday.

"Now, the public violence monitor has recorded over 261 xenophobic attacks and related incidents in over eight years - that is from the inception 2013," said ISS researcher in justice and violence prevention, Godfrey Mulaudzi.

Mulaudzi spoke during a virtual webinar titled "How to extinguish South Africa's flames of xenophobia".

The webinar, hosted by the ISS, comes a week after alleged xenophobic violence in Diepsloot, Johannesburg, which claimed the life of a Zimbabwean national, Elvis Nyathi, 43.  

READ | Xenophobic violence: Zimbabweans live in fear of vigilantes in Diepsloot

Mulaudzi's presentation dealt with what was happening on the ground.

He pointed to xenophobic attacks where the demands were the same:
  • In 2015 - 47 Ethiopians were killed in KwaZulu-Natal alone, according to data from the African diaspora forum.
  • On 8 March 2020, several shops were looted and petrol bombed in the Durban central business district.
  • In November 2020 and January 2021, the attacks continued in Durban from members of the now-disbanded uMkhonto we Sizwe Military Veterans Association (MKMVA).

READ | UN in SA says attacks against foreigners 'deeply worrisome and unfortunate'

In these attacks, the demand was that undocumented [migrants] leave the country and that jobs and businesses be reserved for South Africans.

"You will see that the trend is still the same, but we gave you an explanation of these attacks in Durban, far from Gauteng, the hotspots there, but the modus operandi is the same. The demands are the same. They will put it as 'illegal foreigners must leave the country because jobs belong to South Africans'. You can see the same trend in Diepsloot, Soweto, Hillbrow," he said.

The ISS researcher stated that they looked at crime as one of the drivers of the attacks on foreign-born migrants.

However, this did not necessarily mean that crime was committed by foreign born migrants.

"The main problem is arguably democracy, foreign-born migrants as competing for resources in the context of poverty, food insecurity and high unemployment. In the absence of solid and accountable grassroots leadership, frustration leads to attacks," he said.

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