Letter: Xenophobia: increasing condemnation needed - Businesslive

18 April 2022 - We all know xenophobia is becoming toxic again. Operation Dudula is a group taking the law into its own hands in evicting and threatening the lives of foreigners living in SA. As is guaranteed to happen, some South Africans have been “mistaken” for foreigners.

We all know xenophobia is becoming toxic again. Operation Dudula is a group taking the law into its own hands in evicting and threatening the lives of foreigners living in SA. As is guaranteed to happen, some South Africans have been “mistaken” for foreigners.

On January 19, President Cyril Ramaphosa said South Africans weren’t xenophobic. As proof, he pointed to the number of academics and students from other African countries studying and working at SA universities. On February 17 it was reported that Ramaphosa said his government was “closely watching ongoing antimigrant protests to prevent them from descending into xenophobic attacks, amid growing public anger at foreigners”.

On March 21 at a Human Rights Day rally he said: “As a country founded on tolerance, respect for diversity and nondiscrimination, we must never allow ourselves to turn against people who come from beyond our borders.” However, he said, employers mustn’t knowingly hire undocumented foreign workers and thereby “contribute towards social tensions between citizens and foreign nationals in the country”.

In the same speech Ramaphosa said those who set up organisations such as Operation Dudula were breaking the law. On April 6, within hours of police minister Bheki Cele promising more police visibility in the streets of Diepsloot, Zimbabwean Elvis Nyathi was burnt to death by a mob in the area. Apparently, before Nyathi was killed the mob had demanded to see his passport and accused him of theft, murder, and being in possession of an illegal firearm.

It matters what the country’s political leadership says about explosive issues. The government has been mealy-mouthed and contradictory. More horrific, violent deaths are inevitable if the leadership doesn’t take responsibility and condemn xenophobia repeatedly and unequivocally.

Sara Gon
Institute of Race Relations

https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/letters/2022-04-18-letter-xenophobia-increasing-condemnation-needed/

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