South Africa is Currently Embroiled in Violent Xenophobic Attacks
Foreign nationals living in Johannesburg are being attacked and their businesses looted.
The center of Johannesburg is currently a surreal sight. Cars have been torched, businesses broken into and ransacked, foreign nationals are being violently attacked and police are admittedly struggling to maintain order. Just a week after xenophobic attacks erupted in Pretoria and two months after Nigerians were being attacked in Hillbrow, the country is experiencing yet another spate of xenophobic attacks which began yesterday. According to EWN, two people have been confirmed dead, including a woman who was shot at close range. A hundred others have been arrested thus far.
The reasons for the xenophobic attacks echo the pervasive anti-immigrant sentiment around the world. In a country with growing inequality, unemployment and poverty, many disenfranchised South Africans feel that foreign nationals are responsible for the lack of job opportunities and increasing crime.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has not yet addressed South Africans in light of these recent attacks—a move many have criticized. However, Secretary-General of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), Ace Magashule, has said that, "We are appealing for peace and calm in South Africa and I hope our people will listen to the voice of reason." He added that, "The issue of the mayhem we see, I feel we just want to say to the media, this is also the time for the media to act responsibly."
The Right2Know Campaign has blamed the likes of Herman Mashaba of the Democratic Alliance (DA), Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini and Ramaphosa for spouting xenophobic rhetoric for political gain. In a statement, the organization said:
"We recognize that there are many sources of the violence but it is also clear that statements of outrage and condemnation by state officials at all levels (Cabinet, Parliament, the Gauteng Province, SAPS and Metros) fueled the actions of ordinary citizens who interpreted those statements to be licence to take the law into their own hands. Senior political leaders find an easy target in the vulnerable Africans seeking to make a new home in South Africa."
However, Mashaba has denied that his previous comments on foreign nationals living in the country, incited the violence towards them.
Zambia recently issued a warning to its citizens currently residing in South Africa, urging them to be cautious amid the xenophobic attacks, IOL reports. The Nigerian government expressed that they would be taking "defensive measures" to protect their citizens if the South African government failed to get a handle on the current situation. Nigerians residing in South Africa have also threatened to have the terrorist group, Boko Haram, to attack the country.