Cartoon depicting the effect of the Xenophobia attacks on South Africa’s image by famed South African cartoonist, Zapiro
The current situation in South Africa regarding the attacks seemed to have stabilized with the last attacks being reported in Cape Town over the weekend. However, the Minister of Intelligence, Ronnie Kasrils, has said that sporadic violence is possible and that the government and law enforcement should keep an eye on things. There are still many foreign nationals staying in refugee camps, the biggest of which is in the Western Cape with 2000 refugees and with supplies dwindling, the situation may become untenable. Many members of different communities are helping out with supplies and helping out those stuck in these make-shift refugee camps.
There’s a lot of debate around what the government is doing and I personally think that the government really has done too little and too late. Granted that there are different levels of power and the Police force on the ground seems to have covered a lot of ground to maintain the situation and calm things down. Diplomatically, however, the top leadership brass of President Mbeki and Jacob Zuma (President of the ANC) came out too late with a public statement and even that statement was a far cry from anything action-oriented. All it was a condemnation of the attacks… something almost all South Africans were doing since this whole fiasco started.
What I am glad about is that the situation is now calming down, and
I really do hope that there are no more “sporadic attacks” as the intelligence minister had mentioned. There is already a very great climate of fear on a lot of levels as mentioned by the Waiting in Transit Blog who says…
This xenophobia problem is getting way out of hand. What the mainstream media has failed to give significant coverage to though, the climate of fear which is being created across the country. This is not only facilitated by the violence which is spreading from province to province and town to town. Just this weekend, one of my friends whose family is originally from Malawi couldn’t leave his house because his dad was getting death threats over the phone.
This aspect is very scary, so many expats from other countries who I work with and deal with on a daily basis are now forced to keep low profiles so that people won’t hurt them or their families. It’s even gone to the point where these “Xenophobics” are using the Zulu language to distinguish whether a person is a foreigner or not. Many South African citizens are now being attacked because they don’t speak Zulu and hence are regarded as immigrants.
What is encouraging is the way bloggers and others are coming together to help the expatriate community… again from Waiting in Transit…
Various churches, mosques and other religious institutions are getting involved in order to help the immigrants who fear for their lives as various attacks occur around the country. For anyone reading this, please go and help out… apart from helping these people in need we need to spread education about this issue and stop all of this nonsense. This is South Africa! Why are we killing and destroying people’s lives? Is this what was fought for, for decades, and now in such a short time we’ve forgotten our own heritage?
Two posts, amongst many others, from the South African Blogosphere which have taken positive steps to try and help the situation and get others to help as well are SA Rocks: What you can do right now to help foreigners, and Mike Stopforth: another opportunity to assist refugees..
For more information or getting further into the Xenophobia crisis in South Africa here are a few links which give great overviews…
UnitedforAfrica.co.za has a great webpage set up which uses Google Maps to track the events of the Xenophobia attacks in South Africa so that citizens can mobilise and help those who are affected by the scourge of xenophobia.
Afrigator – the African blog aggregator has a specific page gathering blogs articles around the xenophobia crisis.
One thing is clear from what I’ve seen, South Africans are pulling together to fulfill the promise of their land and welcome and help those who are in need. Even if there is misplaced anger and mistrust in terms of foreigners to our country, most of this is fuelled by the dire need and poverty amongst the lower classes in South Africa. The lack of education hasn’t helped this situation and hence has precipitated the current climate of fear and trepidation. But it’s slowly dwindling, people are realizing the folly of their ways and many more are gathering to provide help and rescue the situation from further disaster. Let’s hope we succeed in fulfilling Mandela’s dream for South Africa.
Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another. – Nelson Mandela