The recent xenophobic attacks that rocked some parts of the country last week have prompted the South African government to take a serious stance.
Since 2008, xenophobic attacks have been random and yesterday South Africa launched its National Action Plan to combat xenophobia, racism, and discrimination.This marks a huge step towards addressing the widespread human rights abuses arising from xenophobic and gender-based violence and discrimination that continue to plague South Africa.
The five-year plan, developed after a thorough consultative process between the government and civil society, aims to raise public awareness about anti-racism and equality measures, improve access to justice and better protection for victims, and increase anti-discrimination efforts to help achieve greater equality and justice.
However the Action Plan fails to address a fundamental challenge fueling the problem: South Africa’s lack of accountability for xenophobic crimes.
Apparently, no conviction for past outbreaks of xenophobic violence has been made, including the Durban violence of April 2015 that displaced thousands of foreign nationals, and the 2008 attacks on foreigners, which resulted in the deaths of more than 60 people across the country.
To effectively combat xenophobia, there is need for the government and police to publicly acknowledge attacks on foreign nationals and their property as xenophobic and take punitive measures.
This should include ensuring proper police investigations of xenophobic crimes and holding those responsible to account.
The Minister of International Relations and Co-operation, Lindiwe Sisulu has called for a crunch meeting with African diplomats with the hope to map a way forward and find a lasting solution to these attacks.She also urged law enforcement agents to take serious action against those that attack foreigners.
“All criminal activities and looting of properties of foreign nationals will not be tolerated‚ and the police and other law-enforcement agencies must act without fear or favour,” she said in a statement.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has categorically condemned the recent xenophobic attacks in provinces of Limpopo and KwaZulu Natal as unacceptable.
Speaking at a fundraising event on Friday evening, Ramaphosa said the attacks were a sign of intolerance and partly ingratitude for the role that other African countries played directly and indirectly in the long struggle against the apartheid regime.
He stressed that South Africans were tolerant people who had rejected xenophobia and would continue to do so again and again. “I condemn them in the strongest terms because this is not us,” he said.
Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema says he’s ashamed of being a South African because of the recent spate of attacks against foreign nationals.
Speaking at a rally in the Eastern Cape he said South Africa is a country for all and called for an end to xenophobic violence.
“Africa is for all of us, we must unite as Africans and stop with the xenophobic attacks. We must love each other. When you love yourself, you will love fellow Africans.” he said
Over the past decade ,foreigners living in South Africa have been targeted by people who accuse them of taking jobs from locals.Some people complain about foreigners having more opportunities of working when unemployment is painfully high.