The SA Human Rights Commission on Monday called on the government to act on the “sporadic attacks” on immigrants and the looting of their businesses across the country. The SAHRC said it had visited some of the communities affected by the attacks.
“We remain concerned at the attacks which have all the hallmarks of xenophobia, since only foreigners and their property seem to be targeted, save for the few nationals who were also caught in the cross-fire,” it said.
“The targeted approach of these attacks on foreign shop owners irresistibly bears xenophobic undertones and not only as criminality as it has been suggested in a number of statements by some government spokespersons.”
SAHRC said that acknowledging this would enable those responsible in dealing with these challenges to do so from a correct perspective. The commission said the escalation in the number of non-nationals entering South Africa had posed various challenges and in some instances, human rights violations were reported to be perpetrated against non-nationals.
“The commission has been aware of the simmering tensions between locals and foreigners for some time from the number of complaints we have received and dealt with,” it said.
The commission said that in 2008, South Africa experienced unprecedented levels of violence and discrimination against non-nationals, during which more than 60 people were killed and thousands were displaced.
“The Commission calls on government to move quickly to address the underlying issues that continue to negatively affect foreign nationals in the manner the country has experienced in the recent weeks.”
It said dealing with xenophobia would need a multi-faceted, multi-dimensional and collective human rights approach based on basic human rights. SAPA