Author(s): Nicola de Jager and Nina Hopstock
Strategic Review for Southern Africa.
Since the transition to democracy in 1994, South Africa has experienced an increase in xenophobia. The May 2008 xenophobic attacks, as well as evidence of renewed threats of violence in Gauteng and the Western Cape illustrates that hostility to foreigners is a prevalent issue in South African society. A history of exclusion, poor service delivery by local governments, slow development and an increase in poverty and inequality, an unwiltingness to acknowledge the political and humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe, and, in particular, South Africa’s closed-door migration policies have provided a breeding ground for xenophobia. South Africa’s political and economic progress will continue to attract immigrants and this challenge needs to be addressed with a properly managed immigration policy for the betterment of both South Africa and the region.
Author(s): Cerise Fritsch , Elissa Johnson and Aurelija Juska
Denver Journal of International Law and Policy.
Since the economic and social breakdown in Zimbabwe, hundreds of thousands of people have fled the country for South Africa, including thousands of unaccompanied refugee minors. An unaccompanied refugee minor, or a “URM, ” is a person under the age of eighteen who has either crossed the border alone or with another child, or who has found himself or herself living in a foreign country without an adult caregiver. Zimbabwean URMs come to South Africa in search of education, shelter, or jobs to support family back in Zimbabwe. Unaccompanied refugee minors who travel to South Africa face a myriad of challenges, including physical safety, life without a parent or guardian, legal and social discrimination, and a constant struggle to find food, shelter, education, health care, and employment. Although these children have rights under international and domestic law, political and other factors combined have denied children the protection and support to which they are legally entitled.
Author(s): Paul Jeffrey
Source: The Christian Century
20 April 2010
IN THE MOVIE District 9, an alien spaceship stalls in the skies above Johannesburg. After three months with no communication, South Africans decide to board the ship, only to find a million aliens who need rescuing. They move them to District 9, an area that’s a cross between a township and a refugee camp. But eventually the welcome for the aliens grows thin; the government forcibly relocates them to a remote area and brutally enforces their separation from the rest of the population.
District 9 evokes the worst of South Africa’s apartheid era, when people were treated as aliens in their own land. This painful mockumentary also depicts an international relief industry in which the inefficiency of the United Nations is replaced by the ruthless capability of a transnational corporation, which is also seeking the secret of the aliens’ ultrapowerful weapons technology. The film is an embarrassing indictment of how we treat the stranger.
Author: Barry Bearak
24 January 2009
The New York Times
MUSINA, South Africa — They bear the look of street urchins, their eyes on the prowl for useful scraps of garbage and their bodies covered in clothes no cleaner than a mechanic’s rags.
Near midnight, these Zimbabwean children can be found sleeping outside almost anywhere in this border city. A 12-year-old girl named No Matter Hungwe, hunched beneath the reassuring exterior light of the post office, said it was hunger that had pushed her across the border alone.
Her father is dead, and she wanted to help her mother and younger brothers by earning what she could here in South Africa — within certain limits, anyway. ”Some men — men with cars — want to sleep with me,” she said, considering the upside against the down. ”They have offered me 100 rand,” about $10.
With their nation in a prolonged sequence of crises, more unaccompanied children and women than ever are joining the rush of desperate Zimbabweans illegally crossing the frontier at the Limpopo River, according to the police, local officials and aid workers.
Author: Karin Brulliard
12 October 2008
Washington Post Foreign Service
Mohammed Rage lived here among the dusty tents outside the nation’s capital for one month. At 48, the Somali shopkeeper was considered an elder among hundreds of immigrants who sought refuge in this government-run encampment after brutal attacks against foreigners spread through South Africa’s slums in the spring.
This week, a photo of Rage’s dead body, splayed over splotches of blood on a white mortuary table, was offered by those he left behind as proof that they could not leave, even though the camp was being shut. He had returned to his looted shop in June, they said, and got shot in the chest.
“I am afraid that everywhere I go, I will be killed,” said Rage’s son, Abdullah Mohammed Rage, 24, clutching the photo as government-deployed security workers used crowbars to tear down nearby tents made of blankets and wooden planks. “In South Africa, there is no place safe.”
Five months have passed since more than 60 people were killed in anti-foreigner beatings and burnings that shocked a nation that touts diversity. Thousands of immigrants moved to about 10 refugee-style camps that seemed incongruous in Africa’s most developed country. In recent weeks, the government has torn most down, saying the neighborhoods are safe again.
Authors: Celia W. Dugger and Alan Cowell
29 May 2008
The New York Times
JOHANNESBURG — In the wake of a convulsion of violence against foreigners, international relief officials said Wednesday that South African authorities were planning to establish refugee camps to house tens of thousands of displaced people who had fled their homes in impoverished squatter areas, but the government contended that no decision had been made yet.
The cabinet’s decision on whether to set up the camps will be announced Thursday, according to a statement issued by the government.
Yusuf Hassan, a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, said the authorities had asked the agency to help ensure that the camps — to be called ”temporary places of safety” — met international standards.
Initially, the camps would house 11,000 people who are now sheltering near police stations scattered around South Africa. The refugee agency, Mr. Hassan said in a telephone interview, would provide some 2,000 tents and an expert to find sites close to urban amenities.
Author: James Kirchick
28 May 2008
The Wall Street Journal
Viewing the horrific images out of Johannesburg last week, one could be forgiven for mistaking them for the harrowing photographs that graced newspaper front pages in the 1980s. Those were the years of “Total Onslaught,” when the African National Congress (ANC) encouraged residents of black townships to fight white rule. Blacks suspected of collaborating with the apartheid regime were rounded up, tried before sham “people’s courts,” and murdered by mobs.
The bloodshed last week was not aimed at the South African government or its suspected collaborators. Instead, it was directed at the country’s most powerless and vulnerable hordes: undocumented refugees.
Thugs wielding machetes, axes and hammers prowled the streets, asking potential foreigners questions to determine their language and dialect. Homes and shops were looted. Women were raped. Even the horrific, apartheid-era practice of “necklacing” — in which ANC sympathizers placed tires doused in gasoline around the necks of suspected collaborators and set them aflame — returned.
Over 40 people have been killed and thousands have been forced out of their homes. Unlike apartheid-era unrest, when blacks were safely isolated in townships far removed from economic hubs, last week’s turbulence spread to Johannesburg’s central business district. The violence seriously undermines the government’s claim that it is capable of hosting the World Cup in 2010.
24 May 2008
Violence against black immigrants in South Africa
Xenophobic violence against black foreigners in Johannesburg’s townships has prompted calls for a new government policy on immigration
SITTING on a pavement outside the police station in Alexandra, an overcrowded Johannesburg township a stone’s throw from the city’s main business district, 21-year-old Talent Dube is at a loss for words. She left her native Zimbabwe two years ago, because there was no money to pay for her school fees and no job to help support her parents and younger brother. Last week an armed mob chased her and two relations from the shack they shared. Their attackers took everything they owned: telephones, television, clothes, even their single mattress.
Talent ran for her life with only the clothes on her back. A towel wrapped around her shoulders to fend off the cold, she is now camping at the police station, along with a thousand others, mainly from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi. Some have been living in South Africa for years. But angry residents, aggrieved by pervasive unemployment, poverty and now soaring food and fuel prices, are accusing them of stealing jobs and houses—and of being criminals.
The ferocious attacks that started in Alexandra on May 11th spread to townships and random settlements around Johannesburg and even reached parts of the city proper. A provincial official reckons about 20,000 people have been displaced. In poor settlements east of the city, foreigners were burnt alive, as some residents watched and laughed. At least 42 people have been killed so far.
Author: Craig Timberg
19 May 2008
The Washington Post
Gangs of men armed with guns, clubs and threats have chased thousands of Zimbabweans and other foreigners from their homes in this nation’s poor townships over the past week, leaving at least 12 people dead and scores injured, according to news reports.
The nighttime rampages have turned police stations in several townships in the Johannesburg area into virtual refugee camps, with makeshift tents, portable toilets and clusters of terrified people, many displaying wounds from the attacks.
Many have vowed never to return to their looted houses but have few options when their own nations are experiencing a dearth of economic opportunities, or, in the case of Zimbabwe, a devastating political crisis and inflation that has topped 165,000 percent.
“I’m not going back to Zimbabwe,” said Patricia Sibanda, 38, a widow who, along with her 15-year-old daughter, was among more than 1,000 victims camped out in the police station in the township of Alexandra, where the attacks began May 11. “There’s no food in Zimbabwe. There’s no everything.”
The New York Times
Monday, April 21, 2008
More than 1,000 people a day are fleeing Zimbabwe and escaping into South Africa due to disputed election and violent crackdown that has followed; in past, men often escaped Zimbabwe to find work in South Africa , but many of Zimbabweans fleeing now are women and children; after early election results from March 29 vote indicated that Pres Robert Mugabe was losing to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, election commission halted results process; results have not been released and recount begun in 23 Parliament races is causing further delays; if there is runoff between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, many fear violence will increase; opposition party says more than 400 supporters have been arrested, 500 attacked, 10 killed and 3,000 families displaced; people who make it across border find sympathy in South Africa ; human rights advocates say only reason more people are not crossing border is because of increased security on South African side