Mobilisation sud africaine contre les violences et les discriminations

Treatment action campaign

Xenophobic Violence: Western Cape Emergency Civil Society Task Team Established; WC Security Forum established


Since Sunday 11 May 2008, xenophobic violence has swept through Gauteng. Beginning in Alexandra, the violence rapidly spread to two dozen communities across the province, including the inner city of Johannesburg. At least 23 people have been confirmed dead, hundreds injured and more than 7000 people dispossessed and displaced.

So far the Western Cape has not experienced the levels of violence witnessed in Gauteng. But we have seen isolated attacks against foreign nationals, and have received information on further planned attacks. A meeting of over 20 civil society organizations was held in Cape Town yesterday to discuss a strategy for pre-empting what has happened in Gauteng from spreading to this province.

As in Gauteng, we have established a civil society task team made up of trade unions, faith based organizations, legal and human rights organizations, humanitarian agencies and refugee organizations. The purpose of the Task Team is to work with the WC provincial government and with national government to prevent violence against foreign nationals and to provide humanitarian and other forms of assistance where necessary.

The Task Team will:

1. Liaise and collaborate with broader civil society on all matters relating to the protection of the rights of foreign nationals in the WC.

2. Take proactive steps to prevent attacks against foreign nationals by mobilizing and educating all communities across the WC province.

3. Develop and enact emergency contingency plans, in collaboration with other stakeholders, for the delivery of humanitarian and social support services to affected persons, should widespread xenophobic violence break out in the WC.

The Task Team will also elect 3 representatives to sit on the newly formed Security Forum that the SAPS has established in the WC. The other members of this Forum include the National Religious Leaders Forum, provincial government and the SAPS. The Security Forum has been mandated to meet and report immediately to deal with any reports of xenophobic violence in the WC.

In light of the fear and instability that has already been created by the violence in Gauteng, we call on national government to make available its plan to deal with this unacceptable crisis. We hope that such a Plan will take the following into account:

1. A moratorium on all deportations of foreign nationals;

2. Protection for foreign and migrant communities especially in high-risk areas such as trains, refugee reception offices and potentially volatile communities;

3. Provision of alternative shelter including food, blankets and other basic necessities;

4. Fast tracked investigation, arrest and prosecution of those arrested for carrying out such attacks.

Furthermore, we salute the many individuals and organizations that have provided humanitarian assistance to the victims of the violence in Gauteng and elsewhere. They are working under tremendous pressure and with limited resources.

All of our organisations condemn the xenophobic violence. The perpetrators of these attacks do not do carry out such barbaric acts in the name of ordinary South Africans. We distance ourselves from such conduct and will work tirelessly to create a society that promotes the human rights of everyone.

Anti privatisation forum

Stop the xenophobic attacks in Alexandra!



The Anti-Privatisation Forum and its affiliate, the Alexandra Vukuzenzele Crisis Committee, unreservedly condemn the recent violent, xenophobic attacks in extension 6 and extension 10. These violent attacks are aimed at people from other countries who are living and working in Alex and have been fed by baseless allegations that have fed other xenophobic attacks in poor communities across our country (e.g. Diepsloot, Atteridgeville, Mamelodi, Sebokeng, North-West, Khayelitsha etc).

It is a tragedy that such attacks are happening in poor working class communities, where the poor are fighting the poor. But there is a clear reason for this. Many in our communities are made to believe that unemployment is caused by foreigners who take jobs in the country – this is simply untrue. Forty percent (40%) of all South African citizens are unemployed and this has been the case for many years. This is not the result of immigrants from other countries coming to South Africa but rather, the result of the anti-poor, profit-seeking policies of the government and the behaviour of the capitalist class. Such massive and sustained unemployment is a structural problem of a capitalist system that cares little about the poor, wherever they are from/live.

In turn, this has contributed to a situation wherein poor immigrants (most especially those from other African countries) have become increasingly seen (and treated) as criminals and ‘undesirables’ by government authorities. This, combined with the government’s failure of service delivery in those poor communities where most immigrants live, has placed poor immigrants and poor South Africans in constructed ‘competition’ with each other. It is out of this situation that the scourge of xenophobia has arisen.

Blaming foreigners and launching violent attacks on those living in South Africa will benefit no one except those who feed off the desperation and poverty of the poor. Let us not forget that it is South African corporate capital – through the framework of NEPAD – that has, over the last decade, moved into other African countries, most often causing many local, smaller businesses to close down and thus contributing to a situation in which many poor people have lost their jobs. Likewise, the South African government’s approach to the crisis in Zimbabwe has further contributed to the mass migration of Zimbabweans to South Africa. The poor, wherever they are, are being exploited and oppressed by the same capitalist class.

As the APF and the AVCC, we call on all those responsible for the recent xenophobic attacks to immediately stop engaging in such senseless and reactionary acts – you are maiming and killing your own brothers and sisters. Anger and resentment at the levels of poverty and joblessness (in South Africa and elsewhere) must be directed at those who are responsible, not the victims. It is the capitalist class and the ANC government that have joined together to implement neo-liberal policies over the past 14 years that have devastated poor communities and that have now created the conditions where the poor attack the poor. In Alex for example, the housing crisis must be blamed on our corrupt and profit-hungry housing officials and those who illegally lease the houses for their own personal gain.

The APF and the AVCC will continue to denounce and actively campaign against these violent xenophobic attacks in our community. In the next few days, we will distribute pamphlets and engage the larger Alex community in organised mass meetings.

For more comment/information please contact: Fredah Dlamini of the AVCC on 074 352 0141 or Silumko Radebe of the APF on 072 1737 268

~ par Alain Bertho sur 22 mai 2008.

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