New racist incidents in South Africa

Recently, attacks on foreigners which had occurred in 2008 and in 2015 in South Africa are back in the news. According to a study by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), racist incidents involving attacks on members of several national minorities living in the country, especially in the cities of Pretoria and Johannesburg, are a reality once again. These attacks take place in a high crime rate context, which is often put down to the excessive amount of foreigners in the country, who, as in many Western countries, are used as scapegoats.

Nigerians are among the most wronged, as they see how their houses and shops are quite often attacked. This has now become a national issue, to the point that in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, some branches of South African companies have been violently attacked. The Nigerian parliament has sent a delegation to present a complaint to the South African government. But these attacks are not only aimed at the Nigerian community, as, for example, Congolese and Somalis have also been murdered during the incidents. It is very possible that, like after the incidents in 2015, attacks on South African property may occur in other countries in the area (on that occasion, such attacks were recorded in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Zambia, Malawi and Ethiopia).

The African Diaspora Forum (ADF in its English initials), which defends the interests of African immigrants in South Africa, directly accuses the mayor of Johannesburg of inciting attacks on immigrants by accusing them of the growing wave of crime which is affecting the city with persistent increases in homicides and thefts with violence.[1] Indeed, the large demonstrations against the presence of immigrants are formally organised against crime in general, prostitution and drug trafficking. A number of sources, however (including the International Migrations Organisation), agree that the number of deaths has been lower this year than in 2008, basically due to a quicker response from the South African police force. It will be necessary to see how this situation evolves, whether the African Union will intervene again as it did in 2015 and if the countries of origin of the victims of these attacks will intensify pressure and reprisals. These factors undoubtedly create an element of tension between countries in the area, which, it appears, must have ties with the country’s traditional racist tendencies. Now, quite simply, some of the victims have changed sides.

[1] According to data of the ISS, on a daily basis during the 2014-2015 period, 49 persons were victims of homicide and there 48 attempted suicides, and 56 homes were broken into.

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