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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

S. Africa: Xenophobia environment remains

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Cape Town - There has been little change in the environment that gave rise to the xenophobia attacks of 2008, the SA Institute of Race Relations warned on Tuesday.

Spokesperson Catherine Schulze said the institute was not predicting an outbreak of violence, as there was not enough information to do so.

But it was cautioning that the environment that gave rise to the attacks of 2008 was "largely unchanged".

"Poverty, unemployment, and incomes indicators have not shifted significantly since 2008, while high levels of crime and violence are an everyday reality in many poor communities.

Increased threats

"At the same time, reports of increased threats, some disguised as jokes and idle banter, created an enabling environment for a renewed series of attacks."

She said the institute urged the government and the ANC to use their leadership positions to change perceptions that many black South Africans harboured towards foreign African immigrants.

Senior government figures should make "concerted public statements" condemning xenophobia.

The institute's statement followed a series of incidents in the Western Cape, where on Sunday night a number of foreign-owned spaza and container shops in Cape Town and surrounding towns were burned and looted.

Some vandalism and attempted looting continued during the day on Monday in Khayelitsha, where police helped Somali shop owners remove their goods.

Police said on Tuesday morning however that the situation was "calm".


On Monday, President Jacob Zuma said though there had been rumours of planned new xenophobic violence, he was not certain there had been actual threats.

He said the government had established a ministerial commission to deal with the situation and people "should not have fears".

In May, Gauteng-based academics said foreigners feared a resurgence of xenophobic violence against them after the 2010 World Cup.

In 2008, 62 people died and 150 000 were displaced in a wave of xenophobic attacks which started in Gauteng.

Source: Sapa


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