Public Services International (PSI) condemns in the strongest terms the xenophobic violence in Johannesburg, Pretoria and other parts of South Africa. We have seen media showing a person being burnt alive, local and foreign owned shops set alight, looting, violence and destruction.
The response to the attacks from the South African government has once again been found wanting. For many years, leaders in governments have spread misinformation that has been used to scapegoat foreigners for the ills of the country.
Yesterday – days late – President Cyril Ramaphosa made a statement in which he announced his intention to call a security cluster. However more has to be done.
Nationalism in all its forms must be opposed, and we call on government leaders to cease making anti-migrant statements and to change its immigration policies.
If South Africa intends to deal decisively with this crisis,
it needs to arrest and sanction individuals and organisations who are organising and inciting violence in the name of xenophobia;
government needs to stop spreading misinformation and blaming foreigners for their problems;
political leaders need to be on the ground calling for unity and peace; and
there has to be a concerted programme to integrate and unify communities.
Xenophobic Attacks in South Africa
Estimated number of migrants in South Africa
the deathtoll of the recent wave of attacks so far
arrests made so far
There is no justification for xenophobia, and what we are witnessing is misplaced anger and frustration at migrants from Africa and the Indian subcontinent.
A significant part of the problem has been the failure of the government to provide proper access to basic public services and a lack of maintenance of infrastructure.
Instead, South Africa’s state-owned enterprises have been looted, and government’s ability to provide services eroded by corruption and maladministration.
All the while poverty, unemployment and inequality have risen. The South African government would be short-sighted to push forward with austerity measures and their plans to cut down the public sector.
We call on government to consult with countries from African and the Indian subcontinent countries to respond to their concerns urgently.
This violence has now spread to Nigeria, where protesters are fighting back at South African franchises and we need to stop it now.
The Nigerian government has expressed concerns that the attacks in Nigeria on South African companies including MTN, Multichoice, Shoprite and others will also have negative impacts on the already employed youths in such businesses.
Enough is enough. South Africa belongs to all who live in it.
End Xenophobia Now!