Pictures of xenophobia in South Africa

Strained by unemployment, relations between locals and foreigners have deteriorated into deadly violence.

Ihsaan Haffejee | | Xenophobia Attacks, Africa, South Africa

Johannesburg, South Africa - The latest wave of xenophobic attacks against foreign nationals occurred in South Africa's Isipingo located in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.

Xenofobia can be defined as an anti-foreigners sentiment felt by some locals and sometimes results in violence against immigrants. Lately, thousands have been displaced from their homes and up to five people were reported to have been killed when violence spread through the province. It began a week after Zulu king, Goodwill Zwelithini, was reported to have said that foreigners "should pack their bags and go back home". The king later denied making those comments but within days the violence had spread to the country's most populous city Johannesburg.

[Foreigners] "should pack their bags and go back home"

Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini, was reported saying.

Since the end of apartheid and the opening of South Africa's borders in early 1990s, migrants from all over the world, especially African countries, have flocked to the southern African nation's cities and towns looking to escape the poverty and political intolerance in their home countries.

People from outside view South Africa as a place of opportunity but with the country's economy in stagnation, strained by an already high unemployment rate, tensions between local residents and foreign nationals have escalated in recent years. And this was not the first time, the xenophobic attacks of 2008 left more than 60 people, mostly foreign nationals, dead.

But many South Africans have chosen to rally against the violent outbreak. Thousands took to the streets of the country's biggest cities to call for an end to the violence and for a united Africa.

Many immigrants remain in refugee camps, afraid for their safety and wanting nothing other than to return to their home countries, even if it means they will return to a more difficult life. They say the anti-immigrant violence in South Africa has become unbearable.

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