Mob chants in the Reiger Park settlement outside Johannesburg, South Africa. (AP)

South Africans Entrenched in Xenophobic Violence

May 22, 2008 05:09 PM
by Sarah Amandolare
In Johannesburg, refugees and foreign nationals from Zimbabwe and other African nations are being violently expelled by frustrated South Africans.

30-Second Summary

Violence against immigrants and refugees in South Africa began proliferating across Johannesburg neighborhoods the week of May 11, 2008. At least 12 people had been violently killed by May 19, and many were from Zimbabwe, where economic collapse and violence has made conditions unlivable.

The Los Angeles Times reports that South African citizens had grown frustrated with the recent influx of Zimbabweans willing to work for low wages, taking up jobs and living space.

In Alexandra, a South African township riddled with xenophobic crime, hundreds of Zimbabweans fled their homes, taking refuge in the bush or police compounds, afraid to return to their violent homeland.

Many outsiders were not surprised by the attacks. The BBC reports ongoing “simmering tensions” between South Africans and Somalis in Cape Town as indicative of xenophobia throughout the country.

has been building in South Africa for years. In 1995, a report by the Southern African Bishops’ Conference concluded that “a very high level of xenophobia” had permeated the country.

Italy is experiencing its own immigration woes, and residents of Naples have attempted to force out migrants with arson and murder. Neapolitans torched shantytowns housing Romanian immigrants, and police detained 400 illegal immigrants in the government’s crime crackdown.

Headline Links: Economic imbalance leads to violence

Background: South Africa’s escalating xenophobia

Opinion & Analysis: Mbeki’s responsibility

Related Topics: The issue of immigration in Italy


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