Once again, xenophobic violence has erupted in South Africa, this time fueled by the looming election. A week ago, Malawians living among South Africans in a squatter camp on the outskirts of Durban were attacked by their neighbors. With large crowds gathering at a police station, unconfirmed reports say two people were killed.
In 2008, more than 60 people were killed in attacks on foreigners, and since then this violence has never quite abated. Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini made some inciting comments in 2015 which sparked attacks. This time, the attacks come after weeks of anti-immigrant rhetoric by South African politicians.
President Cyril Ramaphosa condemned the attacks, reminding South Africans the debt of gratitude they owe in the struggle against apartheid. In hindsight, he is also guilty of scapegoating foreigners while on the campaign trail. Alleging that the foreigners come into the country to practice business without licenses.
Government struggles to provide basic needs have also been blamed on immigrants. In November last year, health minister Aaron Motsoaledi said the health service was collapsing in part due to the weight that foreign nationals bring to the country. He maintained that his comments had nothing to do with xenophobia and that it was the reality of things.
In what seems to be a case of the vulnerable attacking the most vulnerable, these attacks, fuelled by economic instability, are mostly perpetrated by black South Africans targeting African migrants.
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