Xenophobia in South Africa


Xenophobia in South Africa

Prior to 1994 immigrants from elsewhere in Africa faced discrimination and even violence in South Africa, though much of that risk stemmed from the institutionalised racism of the time due to apartheid. After 1994 and democratisation, and contrary to expectations, the incidence of xenophobia increased, Between 2000 and March 2008 at least 67 people died in what were identified as xenophobic attacks. In May 2008 a series of riots left 62 people dead; although 21 of those killed were South African citizens. The attacks were apparently motivated by xenophobia.

Xenophobia in South Africa Before 1994

European immigration

Restrictions on immigration can be traced back to the Union of South Africa, with the different states adopting different policies on foreigners. A prejudice against immigrants from eastern and southern Europe (measured against the welcome of those from western and northern Europe) has been documented. In the Cape Colony the Cape Immigration Act (No 30) of 1906 set as requirement the ability to complete an application form in a European language (including Yiddish) and proof of £20 as visible means of support.

Gepos Bon Carolyne Ahiambo Ngara vlugtelinge in Suid-Afrika


Related articles

International reaction to Xenophobic Attacks in South Africa

South African President Zuma gestures during a news conference in Pretoria

The attacks were condemned by a wide variety of organisations and government leaders throughout Africa and the rest of the world.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees expressed concerns about the violence and urged the South African government to cease deportation of Zimbabwean nationals and also to allow the refugees and asylum seekers to regularise their stay in the country.

Malawi began repatriation of some of its nationals in South Africa. The Mozambican government sponsored a repatriation drive that saw the registration of at least 3 275 individuals.

Gepos Bon Carolyne Ahiambo Ngara vlugtelinge in Suid-Afrika

‘SA het oor 2 j. meeste Somaliese vlugtelinge’

South Africans loot a Somali owned business, following xenophobic attacks on foreigners in Du Noon, Cape Town, South Africa, 23 May 2008. Xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals has spread across the country with several areas in the Cape Town metropole now affected. More than 40 people have died with hundreds injured and thousands displaced after a week of violent attacks on foreign nationals.

South Africans loot a Somali owned business, following xenophobic attacks on foreigners in Du Noon, Cape Town, South Africa, 23 May 2008. Xenophobic attacks on foreign nationals has spread across the country with several areas in the Cape Town metropole now affected. More than 40 people have died with hundreds injured and thousands displaced after a week of violent attacks on foreign nationals.


Suid-Afrika gaan Brittanje binnekort verbysteek as die land met die grootste aantal Somaliese vlugtelinge ter wêreld.

Só het kenners hier in die parlement gewaarsku.

Daar is tans meer as 300000 Somaliërs in Brittanje, het prof. Iqbal Jhazbhay van Unisa se departement vir godsdienstige studies eergister gesê.

“Suid-Afrika het geen keuse as om aandag aan die Somaliese kwessie te gee nie. Volgens die plaaslike Somaliese gemeenskap se eie berekeninge is daar tans tussen 100000 en 120000 Somaliërs in Suid-Afrika.

“As ons die huidige trek van Somaliese vlugtelinge na Suid-Afrika in ag neem, raam ek dat die Somali-gemeenskap in die land binne twee jaar groter sal wees as dié in Brittanje,” het Jhazbhay in ’n voorlegging aan die portefeuljekomitee oor internasionale betrekkinge gesê.

Die DA het gister gesê die R8 miljoen waartoe die regering hom vir humanitêre hulp in Somalië verbind het, is nie genoeg om werklik ’n verskil te maak nie.

“Gegewe die lening van R2,5 miljard wat ons pas aan Swaziland toegestaan het om hom van die gevolge van sy eie geldelike wanbestuur te red, behoort ons ’n groter skenking aan Somalië te oorweeg,” het mnr. Stevens Mokgalapa, DA-LP, gesê.

Ook die organisasie Gift of the Givers het eergister kaalvuis onder die regering ingeklim oor die “skamele” R4 miljoen wat vir sy werk beloof is, maar waarvan hy nog niks ontvang het nie.

“Wat is R4 miljoen? Dit stuur ’n bars boodskap dat ons nie omgee vir Afrika nie,” het dr. Imtiaz Sooliman, stigter en voorsitter van Gift of the Givers, gesê. Hy en sy span het Dinsdag ná ’n noodsending van agt dae uit Somalië teruggekeer.

Sooliman het gesê ’n aardbewing wat duisende mense in ’n oomblik kan uitwis, is beter as die pyn van ’n ma wat weke lank moet aanskou hoe haar kinders een-een wegkwyn.

Die adjunk-minister van internasionale betrekkinge en samewerking, mnr. Marius Fransman, het gesê Gift of the Givers is nie die enigste organisasie aan wie die regering hulp bied nie.

Volgens hom moet die geld noodgedwonge deur die regering se finansiële stelsels gevoer word, maar dit sal “binne dae” oorhandig word.

Gepos Bon Carolyne Ahiambo Ngara vlugtelinge in Suid-Afrika

South Africa looks to deport Zimbabwean immigrants

Thousands of illegal Zimbabwean immigrants in South Africa could face deportation in the New Year.


South Africa is home to up to three million Zimbabwean immigrants, many of whom entered the country illegally.

In September, South African authorities declared that they were cracking down on illegal immigration, and that any Zimbabwean migrants who had not applied for a visa by December 31 would be forced to go home.

Now, with just a few days to go before the deadline expires, migrants are queuing round the block at Department of Home Affairs offices to organise their documentation – with some claiming they have been forced to wait in line for several days to simply pick up an application form.

There are are currently between two and three million Zimbabweans living in South Africa, of whom less than half are believed to have valid documentation.

As of December 22 however, less than 13,000 applications had been received – of which only 43,087 are understood to have been processed. From those which have been been adjudicated, 10,844 have been denied.

Many migrants are believed to have been unable to apply because they cannot afford to take the necessary time off work to queue. Others have been held back by the fact they need a Zimbabwean passport to apply – something many illegal migrants do not have.

The authorities have increased staff levels and extended working hours over the Christmas period, as well as simplifying some aspects of the application process, but have rejected appeals from pleas from migrants to extend the deadline.

“My department is committed to ensuring that all Zimbabwean nationals are documented so they can begin to live productive lives in South Africa, free from fear of persecution,” said Minister of Home Affairs Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma. “I am…convinced that all Zimbabwean nationals will have an opportunity to hand in their applications.”

Human rights groups have accused the goverment of setting an unrealistic timeframe for the application process, with some going so far as to suggest it is a deliberate measure to facilitate the expulsion of large numbers of migrants.

The increasing number of migrants entering South Africa from Zimbawe in recent years has triggered hostility from parts of the South African population.

The government has responded by saying that efforts to get Zimbabwean nationals to apply for the correct documentation were implemented between April 2009 and 2010, and that the September-December timeframe was intended only to give those had not yet applied a chance to do so. “Therefore, far from Zimbabweans having only three months to submit to this process, they have had a year and three months” said Dlamini Zuma.

Braam Hanekom, a spokesman for the migrants rights group People Against Suffering, Suppression, Oppression and Poverty, said that his organisation was “completely against deportation of Zimbabweans who are not criminals and who are either rejected refugee applicants or undocumented.

“We believe that every effort should be made to meet the deadline, by all stakeholders and that if there remain large numbers of Zimbabweans queuing at the offices the department should seriously consider its extension,” he said.

Although the deadline for applications will not be extended, authorities have stated that deportations will not begin until the last application has been processed.

“It is unclear when the moratorium on deportations will be lifted,” said Mr Hanekom.

Gepos Bon Carolyne Ahiambo Ngara vlugtelinge in Suid-Afrika

Vlugtelinge: 2000+ wil daagliks inkom

Kaapstad – Meer as 2000 buitelandse immigrante doen daagliks aansoek om vlugtelingstatus of asiel, het Malusi Gigaba, adjunkminister van binnelandse sake gesê.

Volgens Gigaba is daar sewe Binnelandse Sake-kantore in die land.

Die Departement kyk egter daarna om geriewe vir vlugtelinge by grense beskikbaar te stel, sodat immigrante nie na stede hoef te reis nie.

Volgens ‘n verslag van die Verenigde Nasies is Suid-Afrika die land van keuse vir vlugtelinge van Botswana, Mosambiek, Zambië, Tanzanië en Zimbabwe.

“Baie van die immigrante is ekonomiese migrante,” het Gigaba gesê.

Gepos Bon Carolyne Ahiambo Ngara vlugtelinge in Suid-Afrika

Nothing new, only worse

A policeman walks past a burning shack after xenophobia attacks in a Johannesburg squatter camp in May this year

A policeman walks past a burning shack after xenophobia attacks in a Johannesburg squatter camp in May this year

Two years ahead of the Football World Cup in South Africa, a wave of xenophobic violence is sweeping the country. Xenophobia has been part of South African life for a long time, however, as politicians and the media have been stirring this climate for years.  (Gepos Bon Carolyne Ahiambo Ngara vlugtelinge in Suid-Afrika – Blog).

Xenophobic attacks are nothing new in South Africa. Offences rooted in this hostile attitude have been reported almost every month since the end of Apartheid. Nevertheless, riots escalated to a previously unknown scale in May. Nationwide, more than 60 African migrants were killed, and some 37,000 were displaced. Poverty and rising food prices may have contributed to the intensity of violence, but they are not enough to explain the xenophobia among South Africans. Nor do they explain why it is African foreigners who are bearing the brunt.

The results of the World Values Study of 1995 and studies done by the Southern African Migration Project from 1997 to 2006 show that xenophobia is widespread in South African society. Moreover, a close look at the data reveals that the relatively affluent white South Africans differ only slightly in their attitudes from the black majority.

Since 1994, both the media and politicians have been fuelling feelings of rivalry among the local people, along with a sense of being swamped by foreigners. According to estimates, a large number of the African migrants living in the country came to South Africa without valid documents. However, there is no reliable data on exactly how many such migrants there are. Nonetheless, officials and academics seem happy to quote statistics. For example, one study in 1994 concluded that there were about nine million foreigners in the country, the equivalent of 20 % of the total population. Half of them were said to not have valid papers.

Academically accurate research, however, puts the number of foreigners at closer to six to 12 %. Nor is there any empirical support for the claim that about 3 million Zimbabweans have fled to South Africa. That would amount to one quarter of Zimbabwe’s total population.

Nonetheless, South African media are quick to pick up unreliable figures and turn them into sensationalist headlines. Again and again, there have been reports on the increase in undocumented immigration, often with inflammatory language such as “invasion”, “hordes”, “waves” and “floods”. On average, South Africans who were questioned on the issue in 2001 estimated the share of foreigners to be about 27 %.

Since the end of Apartheid, politicians have continuously put the blame for any evil in the country on African migrants, thus exploiting – and promoting – xenophobic sentiments. In 1994, for example, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, then home minister, stated that all Nigerians were criminals and drug dealers. Three years later, he said that unemployment, then at 34 % in South Africa, would not be an issue were it not for the illegal migrants.

South Africans have developed a new sense of nationalism, and this nationalism may be contributing to a climate of xenophobia. Studies show that South Africans are extremely proud of their nation. Research on prejudice, however, has shown that a high level of nationalism often goes along with little tolerance of foreigners.

The South African government must rise to these challenges. Xenophobia is not only an important political issue. It also has economic relevance. There is no doubt that South Africa depends on skilled labour from other African countries.

Reports Allege `Civil War` being Waged among Rival Somali Groups in E. Cape

Somali nationals demonstrate outside Parliament in Cape Town against recent xenophobic attacks, and call for the United Nations High Commission on refugees to take over the running of relief centres.

Somali nationals demonstrate outside Parliament in Cape Town against recent xenophobic attacks, and call for the United Nations High Commission on refugees to take over the running of relief centres.

SA Imports Somali `Silent War`”

South Africa is playing host to an ethnic civil war that claims the lives of Somalian nationals daily.

In the Eastern Cape, Somalis of rival ethnic groups are waging what some call a “silent war”, “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing”.

Nearly 100,000 Somalis live in South Africa and more than 200 enter the country daily, according to a Somali official working for the department of home affairs.

“We`ve got warlords who enter this country undetected. Some of them are here on a mission,” said the official.

In a two-month investigation, the Daily Dispatch found Somalis in the Eastern Cape battling each other for business territory and South Africans being roped in to assist.

An alleged hit list of Somalis to be killed by their compatriots has been sent to East London police for investigation. The police confirmed receipt of the “hit list”, but said they were unaware it could be part of the battle among Somalis.

Yusuf Ibrahim, spokesman for the East London branch of the Somali Association of South Africa, established to advance the interests locally based Somalis, confirmed the existence of a hit-list.

“We also know that there`s a hitman in the country from Zambia. The problem here is a misunderstanding within us, the Somali community,” said Ibrahim.

Ethnic tension pits those of Ethiopian origin, better known as Ogadenes or Somalian Ethiopians, against those who consider themselves authentic Somalians.

Somalia`s civil war started in the early 1990s when traditional leaders attempted to oust the government. Rebel group Al Shabab later took over the country, imposing Islamic law. Many of those against it were killed or fled.

Most Ogadenes in South Africa are staunch Muslims and see those who fled as defying Islamic rule.

At the heart of the fight over who is entitled to recognition as authentic Somalis is the right to claim asylum status.

Somalis use asylum status as a ticket to establish businesses that have spread in villages, townships and informal settlements throughout the country. The department of home affairs is expected to prioritise asylum seekers from war-torn countries. But Somalis told the Daily Dispatch the department was giving Ogadenes asylum status as authentic Somalians.

Ogadenes feel they have a right to trade in South Africa regardless of their asylum status.

A departmental employee, of Somali origin, said its screening process was “flawed” and fuelling ethnic clashes.

In the past two years, over 100 Somalis in the Eastern Cape have allegedly been murdered in hits.

Port Elizabeth and East London have over 400 graves of Somalians murdered in recent years. Somalians say they were killed by Somalis or hired hitmen.

Thousands of illegal firearms have been bought to fight this war.

Somali human rights activist Mahamoud Abdi Diiriye said hatred between the two groups was fast leading to “genocide in a foreign country”. Three Somalis a week were “killed silently” in South Africa by trained Somalians and hired locals paid from R5,000.

Eastern Cape police spokesman Brigadier Marinda Mills said: “There are fights between these people, mainly for business territory. About the war, our teams have not discovered anything.”

Gepos Bon Carolyne Ahiambo Ngara vlugtelinge in Suid-Afrika