ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Xenophobia, Trigger of Wars, Roars in South Africa

Updated on March 12, 2017

Authors Note

This hub is an installment of the series 'Noteworthy Trend of Events in South Africa'.

Xenophobia, the trigger of wars, roars again

A group of angry people managed to send shock waves through South Africa when they demonstrated the horror of Xenophobia again.

Where were they in 2008, when forty-one foreign nationals and twenty-one South Africans had died in less than a month due to xenophobia?

On February 24th, 2017, the shops and houses of foreign nationals were again looted and set alight. Police had to use stun grenades, water cannons and rubber bullets to disperse angry citizens and foreigner nationals. At least 137 people were arrested in less than 24 hours.

South Africans are accusing legal and illegal foreign nationals of -

  • Stealing jobs and business opportunities that ‘belong’ to South Africans;
  • Receiving government houses when poor South Africans were first on the waiting list;
  • Being involved in human trafficking, the running of (illegal) brothels, and the selling of drugs and (stolen) guns.

Of course, these accusations are not sucked from South Africans' thumbs. During the past twenty odd years large numbers of immigrants from specific countries distinguished themselves as experts in specific crimes, or as favorites of specific employers, to such an extent that foreign nationals are now all being regarded as threats.

The Coalition of Civics against Xenophobia - a group of about two-hundred immigrants from various countries, as well as anti-xenophobic South Africans - took exception to the fact that all immigrants are being lumped together. “We came to South Africa to try and make a living,” said the leader of the group on March 9th, when the group marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to deliver a memorandum to the Presidency, which outlines demands for new and strengthened measures to prevent crime against foreigners and their businesses. They also demand an investigation against Johannesburg' Mayor for alleged anti-immigrant statements.

The Presidency, however, refused to accept the memorandum because the march was deemed illegal. The organizers denied that their march had not been granted permission. They now regard the behavior of the Presidency as a sign that the ANC, President Zuma and the entire government are xenophobic.

Group protesting about foreign nationals stealing their jobs and business opportunities
Group protesting about foreign nationals stealing their jobs and business opportunities | Source
The Coalition of Civics against Xenophobia at the Union Building
The Coalition of Civics against Xenophobia at the Union Building | Source

President Zuma denies xenophobia

These clashes between South Africans and foreign nationals are being regarded as the manifestation of xenophobia - the fear/hate of foreigners/strangers.

Between 2000 and March 2008 - a period of eight years - an estimated 67 people died in what were identified as xenophobic attacks. Then came the most serious outbreak in May 2008 when 62 people (42 foreign nationals and 21 South Africans) died in less than a month.

But President Zuma denied that Xenophobia has anything to do with all of this violence!

“I think we love using phrases in South Africa that at the time cause unnecessary perceptions about us. I think we are not [xenophobic]… the [current] violence is really about crime.” - President Zuma.

The President told South Africans that the issues of Europeans and Americans towards and against refugees from Muslim countries are in fact also a fear and hate of strangers cum foreigners, but they don't call it xenophobia.

“To attach this label, ‘xenophobic’, results in many instances of us not understanding this issue…. and the source of this issue,” said former President Thabo Mbeki (now Chancellor of the University of South Africa) to a gathering of high-level African leaders in Johannesburg. This was also his belief in 2007 when he was the president.

This time, however, he didn't manage to convince all the leaders at the gathering. He was confronted and compelled to pour oil on troubled waters by scheduling another meeting to continue discussions.

"[Then] I would like us to meet because it could be that you will teach me something I don’t know about my own people. I will [may] learn something that I don’t know about myself. Xenophobia, crime, racism is bad!” - Former President Thabo Mbeki

Repercussions of xenophobia in South Africa

A demonstration of protest staged at South Africa’s embassy in Abuja, Nigeria, and an attack on South Africa’s MTN offices, as well as threats on social media from citizens of other African countries, aroused concern about South Africans living and working in other countries of Africa.

A civil society organisation in Nigeria - ‘The National Association of Liberation Tigers (NALT) - appealed to African leaders to urgently find solution to the xenophobic attacks in South Africa. “The attacks could destabilize the continent if left unchecked,” warned the organisation’s director of mobilizer and communications.

President Zuma undertook to compile a report about the challenges faced, including insights about thoughts and behaviors of the South African people.

At a news conference in Cape Town, the Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, told journalists that Government is committed to improving the management of migration.

Martie Coetser
Martie Coetser

The opinion of an owfma-sa

The opinion of a well-known African actor, whose name will remain anonymous, gave wings to my thoughts.

“People are killing each other for a lame reason like taking their jobs. You will find that always they are at the corners of the streets doing nothing. They have never even tried to do something for their life but they just want somebody to put blame on… Imagine if there is a music festival in Nigeria and the Nigerians say we don’t want anything to do with South Africans.”

Of course, also this actor is accused of 'lumping people together'. In reality most of those who are at the corners of the streets doing nothing would love to have a job, or a business of their own, having tried to obtain work in vain. Almost 30% of South Africans are unemployed. The province with the highest unemployment rate is the North West - a whopping 64.6%!

In the far past battles and wars between nations were the order of the day. Becoming a soldier, sometimes even before the age of eighteen, was compulsory. That a young man was sacrificing his freedom and risking his health and life for nation and homeland, were facts that would shape him into a proud and confident adult. Through sufferings he obtained wisdom, and also a healthy yearning for peace and happiness. He obtained gratitude for being alive and for having the power to protect the lives of others. By the end of his military service, the survivor was either ruined for life and ready to keep himself intoxicated with one or another addictive activity or substance, or totally fed-up with drama, violence and blood-shed and ready to live in peace and harmony for the rest of his life.

At present in South Africa, military service is a chosen job like the police force, and can accommodate only a limited number of young people who have a natural yearning for violence. Opportunities for those who prefer a less dramatic vocation are also limited. Consequently, thousands, if not millions, of young, energetic men (and women) in South Africa are unemployed, bored, and eager to participate in any exciting activity.

Unfortunately, marching in the streets, burning tires on the highway, throwing stones at ‘enemies’, or wreaking any havoc that might satisfy their hunger-bitten needs and wants, seem to be the only options for the majority of South Africa’s youth.

In the meantime government officials live and work in extreme luxury, and drive from one meeting to the other in the most expensive cars just to determine who should be suspended for the umpteenth case of incompetence and corruption that’s being exposed by the media.

Enough said! After all, I am only an owfma-sa – an ordinary white female middle-aged South African who should rather stick to knitting socks instead of reading news reports.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)