As Xenophobic as South Africans

No one hates foreigners like South Africans do. South Africa is said to be officially the most xenophobic nation in the world. So much for being xenophobic and all that but why go to the criminal extent of murdering about 50 immigrants? South Africa’s President Thabo Mbeki was reported to have described the saga as “disgraceful” but I say it is far more than disgraceful. It is outrightly criminal and those behind the attacks must be prosecuted to the full extent of the law!

I put the blame of the criminal attacks fully at the doorstep of the South African government. I’d quote excerpts of a recent article by Rowan Philip published in The Times aptly titled: “No one hates foreigners like we do”.

Responding to the shock findings, political analyst Moeletsi Mbeki, brother of President Thabo Mbeki, blamed the government’s “failure to acknowledge the crisis in Zimbabwe, failure to control the borders, and failure to grant these people refugee status” as the “real reason” for levels of xenophobia and the past month’s violence.
Instead, University of Pretoria Professor Hussein Solomon, former immigrants project head for the Institute for Security Studies, said attitudes stemmed from “perhaps the most lopsided regional economics in the world”, in which, per capita, Mozambicans earn 36 times less than South Africans, and Zimbabweans far less than that.

“When the economy turned sour here, it was always going to happen — inevitable, but also predictable, and the government has failed to act to counter it,” said Solomon.
“The Mbeki government’s refusal,” according to Solomon, to respond to the scale of the migration with any national policy, as well as the withholding of police statistics on the involvement of foreigners in crime;
# The failure of the government to heed isolated xenophobic attacks and regular warnings from the SA Human Rights Commission, Idasa and the National Intelligence Agency; and

# “A perpetuation of negative stereotypes of migrants in the South African press” — and from public figures — according to a major report by Queens University, Canada, and Samp, which found that 52% of press reports on migration from 2000 to 2003 included negative references to migrants.

Show me a great nation, and I will show you a nation where immigrants have played a significant role in the development of that nation’s economic development. No single nation can do it alone.

This serious attack on foreigners in addition to the recent power crisis is making me wonder: is this Rainbow nation on the brink of an implosion? So much for African Union and all that…

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Oluniyi D. Ajao
Oluniyi D. Ajao is an Internet Entrepreneur and Tech Enthusiast based in South Africa. Follow him on twitter @niyyie for more tech updates.


  1. With this incidence, how really true is it that SA is the “rainbow” nation? I grieve, and have lacked words to express this.

  2. “Rainbow nation” refers to the shades of races in that country. I agree with you that this terrible incident is very grievous indeed and has dented the image of South Africa in no small measure. 😡

  3. No one hates foreigners like South Africans do. South Africa is said to be officially the most xenophobic nation in the world.

    Wow, where did you get that impression (besides the recent events)?
    I live in SA since 4 months now, and never did I even have the idea that Southafricans might be xenophobic. So many ppl here are somehow from abroad. I study at the UCT with about 80 ppl from foreign countries, and no-one has ever even mentioned that they experienced any kind of unfriendlyness.

  4. I have been labeled as a white middle-class male who happens to live in South Africa. I have a secure job and have not been directly affected in anyway by the ‘xenophobia crisis.’ You can call me indifferent, or a “privileged white”, but never associate me with South Africans that torture their fellow human being.

    Give this a read: Debunking xenophobia – about the South African mind-set

  5. I enjoyed reading your blog post Galen. You summed it all up by stating that you’re a “priviledged white”. To a reasonable extent, you’re immune from the xenophobic madness.

    @ robg, please read The Times article I linked to. 😉

  6. i can say is the our goverment who is the couse of xenophobia,1 they say every one who live in SA have the right ti shelter ect.that way the come for they rest of their live in SA,they goverment must have the limits to foreing,as well as the camp for them and work on repairing the boards

  7. I am a South African who is totally against these brutal xenophobic attacks. In fact I regard these(xenophobic attacks) as total stupidity. People around the world should know that not all South Africans are cruel to fellow Africans. Actually , I do not regard my fellow Africans brothers and sisters as foreigners since we are in the same continent. I do not even understand the reason of attacking them because they are absolutely not the cause of unemployment and poverty in South Africa. What worries me most is that there are people from other countries(Asian countries and so on) outside this continent. These people were never labelled as foreigners or stealing the jobs from anyone. This makes me feel very ashamed to be a South African. I was so pleased to see the Minister of Transport & Community Safety , Bheki Cele discouraging it when it started and it never continued in KwaZulu-Natal. I think it will be wise to establish forums that will fight against Xenophobia and put more pressure on the government to resolve the matter.

  8. I am still traumatised by the recent xenophobic attacks in the land of my birth to the extent that I am putting together a manuscript (currently) on the what I could safely refer to as the greatest tragedy of our time – xenophobia. Could some of your contributors kindly assist me with summarised inputs pertaining to the above.

    Kind regards

    Promise (from Soweto)

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