THROWBACK: South Africa’s Xenophobic History

At a time in 2019, #Xenophobia was headlining the news and social media platforms. Some people talked about it without an idea of what the word meant. In this article, I won’t just be defining Xenophobia as a word but i will also give you a brief history of Xenophobia sitting other countries but focusing more on South Africa since she’s the reason we are talking about this anyways.

Cambridge Advance learner’s Dictionary defines Xenophobia as “An EXTREME dislike or fear of foreigners, their customs, their religion, etc”
Someone who Shows or expresses Xenophobic Behavior is called a Xenophobe.
 The word Xenophobia originates from two Greek words “Xenos”, meaning “Stranger” and “Phobos”, meaning “Fear”. So it can simply be put as “Stranger fear” or “Fear of Stranger”

In the context of the last manifestation in South Africa, I would love to define it as Andreas Wimmer’s Who said, “Xenophobia is a political struggle about who has the right to be cared for by the state and society; a fight for the collective good of the modern state”.

Xenophobia has been around for quite a long time being manifested in different ways like Racism, Racial democracy, travel bands, you can name the rest..
  Coming back to South Africa, the country have had a long ride with Xenophobic attacks dating back to the 1980s.

Beginning from 1984 to the end of hostilities in Mozambique, at least 50,000 to 350,000 Mozambicans fled to South Africa but were refused to be granted refugee status. At that time, Lebowas banned them but they were welcomed by Gazankulus where they settled. From 1993 to 1997, a large number of Congolese refugees fled civil war to south Africa, and there, they were denied access to primary Health care. 

  • In 1998 a Mozambican and two Senegalese were thrown off a train.
  • In 2000, 7 foreigners were killed on the Cape flats within five weeks. 
  • October 2001, Zimbabweans were forcibly evicted out of the Zanspriut informal settlement with their properties looted and destroyed after failing to obey their  10 days evacuation notice. No injuries were recorded. 
  • In the last week of 2005 and the first week of 2006, at least 4 people including 2 Zimbabweans were killed in the Olievenhoutbosh settlement, blamed for the dead of a local man. In the event, shacks and belongings of foreigners were burnt.
  • July 2006 saw the death of 21 Somali traders and 26 more in August that same year.
  • Attacks continued in late 2007.
  • On 8th January 2008, 2 Somali shop owners were murdered in Eastern Cape 
  •   In March 2008, 7 foreigners were killed including Zimbabweans, Pakistanis and Somalis and their shops and shacks set alight in Atteridgevielle. 
  •  In May 2008, riots in Gauteng, Durban and Mpumalanga 
  • Left 62 people dead, several hundred injures and the destruction of immigrants owned properties.
  • In May 2009, the city of  said they would apply for eviction order to force the 461 refugees to leave two refugee camps in that city.  On May 21st then president Thabo Mbeki approved a request from the SAPS for the deployment of armed forces to stop attacks in Gauteng for the first time since the end of Apartheid (early 1990s).
  • In November 2009, a community of at least 1500 to 2500 Zimbabwean farm workers were forcibly evicted in the Western Cape, homes trashed and their properties looted with none hurt.
  • In July 2012, there were new attacks in part of Cape Town and Botshabelo 
  • On the 30th of May 2013, a 25-years-old Abdi Nasir Mahmoud Good was stoned to death and 3 Somali shopkeepers killed later in June of that year.
  • On the 7th of June 2014, a Somali in his 50s was stoned to death and two others seriously injured. Later that Saturday evening, 3 more Somalis were wounded from gun shots and their shops looted.
  • On the 18th of April 2015, a Mozambican by name Emmanuel Sithole was attacked in broad daylight and he later died from his wounds. 7 more deaths were recorded that month.
  • October 2015, more than 500 people were displaced and 300 homes and shops looted and in some cases destroyed. On the 21st of October, taxi drivers attacked Spaza shops owned by Pakistanis, Bangladeshi, and Ethiopians residents of Grahamstown.
  •   February 24th 2017, protesters matched to the foreign Minister’s office with a petition accusing immigrants of taking their jobs, increasing crimes and being rude especially the Nigerians.
  • On the 25th of March 2019, Durban Saw another  Xenophobic attack leaving 3 people death. 
  • On the 1st of September 2019, a taxi driver was killed which lead to riots and looting of foreign owned shops. By the 3rd, about 50 businesses mostly owned by immigrants from other parts of Africa were destroyed or damaged and all these coincided with a nation wide truck driver’s strike against the employment of non South Africans. South African Small Business Development Minister Lindiwe Zulu said that foreign business owners cannot expect to co-exist peacefully with local business owners unless they share their trade secrets. According to Zulu, foreign business owners had an advantage over South African business owners due to marginalisation under apartheid. “They cannot barricade themselves in and not share their practices with local business owners,” Zulu said The comments were met with widespread criticism.

we all are africans, why not treat one another like brothers should? AFRICA will never grow if Africans fail to learn to live together, tolerating the weakness and flaws of others.

Wikipedia articles.

Published by Nash

Nash reads Electronic Engineering, a Bassist who loves writing, an introvert and overall an overthinker.

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