Inside Story

South African immigrants: Stealing jobs or scapegoats?

Resentment grows against foreign workers blamed for taking government jobs and committing crimes.

A wave of resentment is sweeping through South Africa aimed at foreign nationals.

The unrest began in Durban earlier this month, spreading to at least nine provinces, and reaching Johannesburg on Friday.

At least six people have been killed, and thousands driven from their homes.

It’s because of a perception that immigrants are taking South African jobs.

President Jacob Zuma is calling for calm, saying violence against foreigners is unacceptable.

Speaking in Cape Town on Thursday, he said: “No amount of frustration or anger can ever justify the attacks on foreign nationals and the looting of their shops. We condemn the violence in the strongest possible terms.”

But are foreign workers being unfairly blamed for the social and economic failings of South Africa’s government?

Presenter: Shiulie Ghosh


Mphuthi Mphuthi, chairman of the Soweto Business Access.

Piers Pigou, Southern Africa Project Director at the International Crisis Group.

Imtiaz Sooliman, founder and chairman of Gift of the Givers, a humanitarian organisation helping displaced foreign workers.