Xenophobia or frustration in South Africa?

Some say anti-foreigner sentiments are simply a symptom of people’s frustration with poverty and growing inequality.

by

    The crowd in South Africa's Diepsloot township is hostile towards the police and journalists.

    They are standing across the road from a shop owned by a Somali national.

    The shop was looted the night before. It's now empty and property like refrigerators destroyed.

    The police are keeping a close eye on the situation. The crowd is loud but so far they aren't as violent as they were 24 hours earlier.

    People here began looting shops after a Somali national shot and killed two people during an argument on Sunday evening. The killings angered the people who live here, and they’ve been taking it out on foreign shop-owners. So far they’ve looted and destroyed 19 shops.

    Foreign nationals from countries like Pakistan, Somalia and Ethiopia quickly packed their belongings and were escorted from the area by the police.

    It's exactly five years since thousands of foreign nationals were displaced - some even killed - when locals turned on them in 2008.

    Government officials are quick to say the community in Diepsloot township isn’t xenophobic, just angry about the shooting on Sunday and violence in general.

    Some political analysts and South Africans say what's happening is xenophobia. I spoke to a number of people and I did hear comments like, "they should go home," and "they bring diseases to cour country".

    But there are others who say that anti-foreigner sentiments are simply a symptom of people’s frustration with poverty and growing inequality.

    That's something that won't change overnight. Whether or not we going to see more of this violence in South Africa is the question.


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