Experts Sound Warning On Government’s Failure To Deal With Xenophobia

Several shops were looted and set alight in Malvern and Denver on 1 September 2019.
Several shops were looted and set alight in Malvern and Denver on 1 September 2019. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN

Experts have warned of the creation of divisive and destructive politics should the government not deal with rising anti-immigration sentiments.

They said that the reluctance to deal with xenophobia and the South African public’s violent predisposition were enabling an environment which could result in far-right politics.

Scenes of anti-immigration and anti-integration mass protests across the United States and some parts of Europe were a common feature on international media platforms.

The far-right politics which often evoked negative stances towards groups that were deemed as undesirable in society had always appeared to be far from home.

But with South Africa engulfed by yet another outbreak of hate crimes against immigrants, senior research specialist at the Human Science Research Council (HSRC), Dr Steve Gordon, said that the South African government had to act now or the country could face a similar fate.

“The degree to which anti-immigrant sentiment has warped the politics of our European and North American neighbours is quite alarming and stark and should present a significant warning to the South African government.”

The Centre for Study of Violence and Reconciliation’s Dominique Dix-Peek said that anti-immigration from countries like the US influenced perceptions.

“The United States and places like that are influencing countries like South Africa, so as they close their borders and its seen as acceptable to close borders in Europe and America, it’s seen as more acceptable here.”

Xenowatch has recorded 529 xenophobic violence incidents that resulted in 309 deaths in South Africa between 1994 and 2018.

It is a monitoring tool developed by Wits University’s African Centre for Migration and Society.

EWN