A new wave of xenophobia occurred in South Africa this week. The xenophobic attacks were reported by the chairman of the Nigerian Union in the Northern Cape Province in South Africa. As reported in Bella Naja, the President of the Union, Ikechukwu Anyene, made the following statement while in Pretoria, South Africa.
“The National Secretariat of Nigeria Union has received report of xenophobic attacks from Kennedy Osagie, the Northern Cape Province chapter chairman of the union. The report indicated that South Africans attacked Nigerians. Two cars belonging to Nigerians have been reportedly burnt and they have been going from house to house looting and destroying their property.”
Although 20 Nigerians were affected by the attack, none were killed. This is the latest xenophobia to occur in South Africa, where previously during April South Africa saw deadly attacks against foreigners who had migrated to South Africa from other African countries.
Xenophobia is said to be fueled by several myths as well as stereotypes about those who have emigrated to South Africa. One of the first myths is that immigrants want to live in the country illegally. As listed by Operation Fiela-Reclaim, finding and removing undocumented workers has become a priority that has led to police abuse because they busted down doors in several homes looking for undocumented workers, according to the Mail and the Guardian.
The second myth fueling xenophobia is that foreigners are stealing jobs from South Africans. Research institution, GCRO, which has been tasked with building a database of information for the government and others, stated that 82 percent of the informal businesses in the Guateng province are run by those either born there or those who are from other provinces within South Africa. The other 18 percent are run by those who are foreign born. South Africans were found to benefit from foreign owned businesses. Of the 513 foreign businesses that were interviewed, 31 percent rented property in order to run their businesses.
Third on the list of myths that fuel xenophobia is that foreigners come to South Africa to take native South Africans’ healthcare. Because of a strong misunderstanding about South African law, few South Africans know that healthcare is available to all regardless of where they are citizens or not.
According to a report released in 2014, African Center for Migration and Society researcher Jo Vearey stated that only about four to seven percent of the population living in South Africa is foreign born. The healthcare crisis in South Africa is the result of chronic shortages, understaffing and lack of resources, which have multiple causes. The impact of those who are foreign born is considered negligible as only nine percent of those who live in the Gautang province are foreign born.
Xenophobia has led to a public relations nightmare for the South African government in light of their resistance to taking into custody Omar al-Bashir, the president of Sudan and the man responsible for the deaths of 300,000 Sudanese at Darfur. The South African government failed to take al-Bashir into custody, and although President Zuma condemned the attacks, little has been done to stop the xenophobia, according to The South African.
As previously reported by Inquisitr, South African farmers and white South Africans are facing genocide in addition to the continued xenophobia. Police continue to claim that farmers are targeted for robbery and not because of race.
What do you think about xenophobia in South Africa? Is there more that the South African government can do to protect both its citizens and immigrants?
[Photo Credit Mail & Guardian]