Why do you hate us?


The World Cup tournament had barely ended when xenophobic violence became a headline issue once again.

The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (Cormsa) had earlier warned, ‘‘Widespread mass xenophobic violence in the aftermath of the Fifa World Cup appears a credible threat.’’

Amid the nervousness YOU spoke to two young people who’d been involved in earlier violence – one a foreigner, the other local. Both appear in a documentary called Where Do I Stand? which seeks to educate young people about the evil of xenophobia.

Rwandan Peter Rwagasore (19) is accustomed to being victimised in Masiphumelele near Cape Town, where he lives with his mom. He’s frightened by the threats and refuses to be interviewed at his home.

‘‘I face xenophobia every day,’’ he says. ‘‘I’ll be walking down the street and someone will shout ‘Hey you, kwerekwere’.

It’s like you’re a baboon. I don’t understand why they hate us so much. There are foreign white people in South Africa but they don’t chase them away. Why us? It’s as if we’re not human.’’

Yamkela Mxinwa, a 16-year-old girl who lives in Du Noon, Cape Town, admits she joined in the xenophobic attacks of 2008 by mobs who looted shops and chased foreigners out of the township.

‘‘I’d hear people mentioning xenophobia and I thought it was a disease the foreigners had,’’ Yamkela says. ‘‘So I thought I had to help get rid of it.’’

The message from the attackers was always the same: foreigners are taking our jobs, money and women and we must chase them out.

The violence is usually caused by political and business leaders fighting for power in townships, says Duncan Breen of Cormsa. Leaders and those who want to be leaders often mobilise residents to attack and evict foreign nationals.

‘‘They do this in the hope it will strengthen their own power within the community’’ he says.

Read the full article in the YOU of 22 July 2010

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