Media Statement: Xenophobic Violence in Gauteng and the “March against immigrants” planned for Friday 24 February 2017

IJR Media Statement

21 February 2017

The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation (IJR) strongly condemns the “March Against Immigrants” planned for 24th February 2017, and the recent outbreak of Afrophobic violence across South Africa. Between 2008 and 2016, South Africa witnessed unprecedented levels of violence against foreign nationals which resulted in the loss of lives, the destruction of property and an overall collapse of trust within communities across the country.

In South Africa, we experience a very specific kind of xenophobia, targeted at African foreign nationals, which can be attributed to South Africa’s long history of apartheid and racism. Afrophobia is as a result of centuries of colonial oppression, the legacy of imposed borders and internalised racism among black people. It is also as a result of competition over resources and employment opportunities which results in misplaced anger towards foreign nationals, instead of the racially-based economic system that brought about these disparities. Afrophobia undermines the ideology of Pan-Africanism, which speaks to a united Africa and an Africa without borders, it is this spirit of Pan-Africanism that animated and mobilised the decolonisation process in the mid-20th century, which contributed to South Africa’s liberation from apartheid. It is also important to recognise the particular kind of xenophobia experienced by Muslim foreign nationals which contributes to compounded experiences of violence and fuels growing Islamophobic sentiments globally.

IJR would like to appeal to the South African Government, and provincial administrations, which have a Constitutional obligation to protect the human dignity and safety of asylum seekers, refugees, economic migrants and all those living in South Africa. We call upon the authorities to remain vigilant, with regards to the planned events of Friday 24th February 2017, and to prevent a repeat of xenophobic violence. Government should take the necessary steps to protect foreign nationals and also initiate interventionist measures aimed at fostering understanding of the conditions that often lead foreign nationals to seek refuge in South Africa, in the same way that South African exiles sought refuge across the continent in the brutal days of apartheid.

In addition, government and members of society should protect those who become particularly vulnerable in times of violence, including women, girl children and members of the LGBTQIA+ community who experience compounded and intersecting violations. Sexual assault is often used as a tool of violence which is specifically targeted at vulnerable members of society and it is in times of increased conflict that sexual violence is used as a weapon of domination.  Children often become displaced and orphaned during these times of crisis and upheaval and therefore there is a need for greater protection during this time.

There is an urgent need for the South African government to address the systemic inefficiencies that lead to xenophobic violence. Community leaders and government officials should avoid using inflammatory xenophobic language which further fuels xenophobic attitudes. We are calling on all South African citizens to assist by familiarising themselves with the contact details of their local councillor(s) to report incidents of violence that they witness. We also urge South Africans to practice the spirit of Ubuntu and Pan-Africanism in fostering cohesion and unity in our country and across our beloved the continent.

For media inquiries please contact:
Jodi Williams ( and
Mamello Mosiana (
Tel: 021 202 4071

By | 2017-03-30T13:24:30+00:00 February 21st, 2017|Categories: News, Press Releases|


  1. Thandeka Mthethwa 22nd February 2017 at 10:15 pm

    I am not really against foreigners. They are African people, they are like us all. But now the problem I’m having is that our fellow South African children are being forced to use drugs and become prostitues and as well as all these other illegal business that are running around. What I don’t understand is why do we call ourselves brothers and sisters when some of you foreigners are not doing good to us? It really touched me when I heard about this human trafficking thing being in South Africa. If you foreigners came to South Africa for the right reason I don’t think we citizens would have considered the Xenophobics attacks. Let those who are destroying our country go home. We can’t be suffering like this when people can be sent home so we can have our freedom. We now even scared to be walking around our own streets thinking of all these bad things that are happening . We don’t wanna leave like this in our very own country. Let’s all unite and be one. We all Africans let us not do any harm to each other but I still say let those who are destroying our country go home!!!!!!

  2. Jim 23rd February 2017 at 6:10 pm

    Cut all bi-lateral ties between South Africa and other African countries then do the same thing to the South African Nationals leaving in other African countries.

  3. Elias 23rd February 2017 at 8:13 pm

    Comment…Africa is one ,we are all people of Africa WHY warsting time for doing unhelpful things ,pls love your friends as u yourself that’s humanity Remember if u like to walk with a knife u ll die with aknife ,violence leads to opherns ,loss of properties,economic problems and racism in the continent let be one in all

  4. Mof 25th February 2017 at 9:48 am

    i think that instead of beatings and killings, there is need to remove these foreigners peacefully, like putting all those without valid papers and good cause into prisons and then send them home. there are some people who are in south africa for good reasons that will develop africa as a whole. some of these foreign nationals who have valid papers are greatly contributing to the economic well-being of the country. Students came to study. they should just be left to do what they are doing, they are studying and cannot be classified as workers.

  5. Mr T 25th February 2017 at 1:34 pm

    Its not all foreigners who sell drug and its not all south Africans who fight foreigners. but let anyone who breaks the low be arrested for it.if you judge other’s you will be judged also what ever you do just knw that what goes around comes around its only the metter of time.lets becarefull in everything we do to other coz we will fill the same pain

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