Xenophobic Attacks: South Africa Calms Foreigners’ Fears
Authorities in a crisis meeting assured that crimes against foreigners will not be tolerated
South Africa’s Police, Minister Bheki Cele and his International Relations counterpart, Lindiwe Sisulu, on April 1, 2019 held a crisis meeting with African diplomats to discuss the wave of anti-foreigner attacks in the coastal city of Durban, the British Broadcasting Corporation, BBC, reported. The attacks have been prompted by rising unemployment and the perception amongst some South Africans that foreigners – especially Africans – have taken their jobs.
Lindiwe Sisulu urged the police to act against people targeting foreigners. “All criminal activities and looting of foreigners’ properties will not be tolerated. Police and other law-enforcement agencies must act without fear or favour,” she said earlier in a statement. The meeting with African envoys was to allay fears by their nationals of their conti nuous safety after three people were killed and over 100 displaced in xenophobic violence last week. Observers say the attacks are embarrassing for South Africa, as other African states gave refuge to many South Africans during white-minority rule.
South Africa’s firebrand opposition leader, Julius Malema, condemned the spate of attacks on African migrants in the coastal city of Durban, telling his supports: “There is no foreigner that took your jobs. If you fail in business, do not blame other people.” The leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, EFF, took a tough line against xenophobia while on the campaign trail in the North West and Free State Provinces ahead of the May 8, 2019 general election, the BBC said. “I know you call foreign nationals derogatory names, but they are Africans like yourselves … From Cape to Cairo, Morocco to Madagascar, African unity is key,” Malema advised.
Some South Africans complain about foreigners working in the country where unemployment was more than 27 per cent at the end of 2018. Xenophobia against migrants from other African coun tries is not new in South Africa. In 2015, unrest in the cities of Johannesburg and Durban claimed seven lives as immigrants were hunted down and attacked by gangs. South Africa experienced its worst outbreak of violence against foreigners in 2008, when more than 60 people were killed.