South Africa: Xenophobia, Why?
Por Deisy Francis Mexidor
Pretoria, Feb 28 (Prensa Latina) The community of Jeppestown, in Johannesburg, was the scenario, for the second night in a row, of looting and intimidation, as the latest incident in an outbreak of xenophobic violence in South Africa.
The riots are a reminder of what happened two years ago, when a wave of attacks started in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal province, and spread to other parts of the country.
The anti-immigrant sentiment broke out last week in West Pretoria and it is now affecting Jeppestown.
The situation has worsened in light of the current threats of violence and destruction of assets against foreigners living in South Africa, President Jacob Zuma said in a communiqué on February 24.
The president asked for calm and moderation, and strongly condemned violence, after a march against immigrants in Pretoria became a battlefield.
As a result, at least 136 people were arrested in connection to the tension between foreigners and nationals in West Pretoria, according to the interim national police commissioner, Kgomotso Phahlane.
The residents in some areas blame the immigrants for the escalation of crimes, especially drug trafficking.
In many cases, they see the arrivals of foreigners as a danger to lose their jobs. 'This is one of the factors leading to xenophobic violence,' said Internal Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba.
During a recent religious service in Sunnyside, a neighborhood in this capital mostly inhabited by foreigners, the minister accused some 'unscrupulous' companies of being responsible for the growing animosity.
They bring South Africans and immigrants face to face in their race to earn more profits from lower salaries, Gigaba explained when referring to the exploitation of immigrant workers without social protection.
As a result, local workers are at a disadvantage, said Mamelodi Concerned Residents, a spontaneous group created after this situation. The group submitted a memorandum to the Internal Affairs Department on Friday.
For its part, the government, which urged to address the root of the problem in 2015, repeated its commitment to fighting crime in order to promote safer communities.
'Our people cannot continue to live in fear,' noted President Zuma, adding that 'many citizens from other countries who live in South Africa are law-abiding and contribute positively to the country's economy.'
It is incorrect to blame all foreigners for drug or human trafficking. 'Let us isolate those who commit such crimes and let us work with the government for them to be arrested, without stereotyping or damaging the innocent,' the president added.
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