Is South Africa really a Xenophobic nation?

Neo Mangope


Following the recent reports and the whole controversy around xenophobia, South Africa has a history of xenophobia, with violence which has left many foreigners either dead or injured, and many foreign migrants have been displaced, seeking refuge at police stations and churches. The South African government and the police have also been criticised for their disinclination to deal with the xenophobic attacks, insisting that the situation has been stabilized and is under control. Xenophobia is a serious crisis and as a country we need to stand in solidarity and put an end to these violent attacks and discrimination.

As a young South African, I am totally against Xenophobia, and I strongly believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, and we as Africans do not live in isolation, and we share one identity and one human race, therefore we cannot allow xenophobia to happen. The Preamble of our Constitution clearly states that we, the people of South Africa, recognise the injustices of our past, honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land; respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity. South Africa comes from a very oppressive past, such as apartheid, and therefore xenophobia reflects the country’s history of isolation from Africa, a product of apartheid which continues to reinforce a dangerous “us and them” attitude.

We are one, and we shouldn’t let the prejudice against our fellow Africans lead us to hatred and resentment.

The causes of xenophobia is that, the people who attack foreigners, are against them because they are of the opinion that these foreign migrants steal their jobs, they blame them for the high levels of crime, drugs and prostitution. However, I think that that this is deeper than xenophobia, it is more than the hatred and fear but a genuine dislike, that somehow foreign nationals are behind some of the crimes committed, such drugs, human trafficking and prostitution, but I don’t think that this is the time to point fingers, and we cannot shy away from the fact that there are high levels of crime in South Africa, but the question of who is involved, is something we cannot be certain of, both fellow South Africans and foreign nationals may well enough be involved,  as there is always two sides to every story.

Xenophobia is sometimes taken out of context, to a certain extent I do understand why the people of South Africa are angry about the high numbers of foreign migrants entering our country, majority of the African foreign migrants enter South Africa illegally, and most of these migrants undocumented. Therefore I do not think South Africa is a xenophobic nation, it’s just people tend to take the law into their own hands over the perceived criminality committed by foreign migrants, and when that happens it looks like xenophobic attacks, where else people from the community simply take the justice I their own hands. The media has also made it look like South Africans hate foreigners but in fact, South Africa has opened their arms to the people of other country. The police however must investigate all criminal activities and anyone, and not just foreign nationals, who are guilty of any criminal activity, must be dealt by the law. The necessary rules apply for entering any country in the world, and I think that South African laws aren’t strict enough that is why we sitting with a lot of illegal immigrants. There are laws which regulate how to enter the country, which I personally think will at least end some of the issues in our country.

However in the meantime we need to educate our fellow South Africans about our duty as a nation to love all who live in our country, and have more training and dialogues with community members to try and identify the challenges faced and work to develop strategies to actively address them, thereby allowing communities to feel heard and play a proactive role in seeking solutions. We as South Africans should stand against Xenophobia and unite and protect our fellow Africans in the spirit of Ubuntu for a united African continent.



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