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How African Foreigners Lose Millions In Xenophobic Attacks In South Africa

A few weeks back, the Mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba vowed to ‘cleanse’ the city of Nigerian drug lords. Unfortunately, to the common South African folk on the streets, a drug lord is any black foreigner with a nice car- quite an unfortunate and dangerous stereotype.

Subsequently, many houses belonging to foreigners were torched. Their foreign African occupants were accused of enticing local girls into prostitution, drug addiction and drug pushing.

Commendably, the Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba rushed to the area and reminded the local South Africans not to take the law into their own hands.

Officials in the area also vowed to arrest and prosecute all those suspected in torching and destroying property.

On 18th Feb, 2017 Pretoria West came to a standstill when a group of South African youth came from Atteridgeville, a locality of black South Africans armed with machetes, stones and petrol bombs and descended onto Pretoria west.

Foreign Africans from Somalia, Uganda, Nigeria, Ethiopia and other parts of Africa have settled in Sunnyside in the heart of the city of Tshwane and Pretoria West, where they carry out “all kinds of business; legal and otherwise, a matter of law enforcement.

However, the significant majority of East Africans are into legal businesses; selling motor spares, used cars, and run mini super markets.

Like in any city, prostitution also exists and many brothels have been pounced on by police on several occasions, still a matter of law enforcement. It is alleged that some West African nationals rent residential houses and use them for drug pushing and prostitution. These allegations can only be proved by law enforcement but not mobs of marauding youth.

This has come at a time when the opposition Economic Freedom Front, EFF disrupted the State of the Nation Address (SONA) asking the speaker not to allow president Jacob Zuma to address the Nation, accusing him of gross corruption.

It is not far-fetched to say that the black South African’s socio- economic grievances have been stimulated by the EFF action few weeks back. It is also possible that those in leadership have had to quickly look for a diversionary issue to hoodwink the nationals from the SONA debacle, Also to defray the peoples legitimate demands of their increasingly presumed ineffective government.

Despite the assurances by the Home Affairs Minister, security agencies like the police have done little to stop the carnage as they perhaps share the sentiments of the xenophobic rioters towards African foreigners.

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African foreigners, ironically, are accused of taking away jobs of the local people, yet it’s never easy for a foreigner to get a job when there is a South African national who can do it. Foreigners are struggling to survive too, in a difficult economic environment. They help one another, receive assistance from their relatives who are outside South Africa, and some do buy and sell goods to survive. Some are looking for safety after running away from bad governments at home. This is the stark African reality we must all face with empathy.

All in all the current xenophobic attacks on foreigners in South Africa shows how ignorance manifests itself among Africans. There so many white foreigners living in South Africa, but because they are white in complexion, then they are not targeted as foreigners. African leaders have a lot to do to change the mind-set of the African people.

If you harm or kill a Nigerian or Ugandan living in Pretoria, what are your thoughts about your cousin who works for MTN in Lagos, or Kampala? Would you, by your reckless actions, not have put his or her life on the line too?

On Friday the 24th of Febraury 2017 a march is being organised by a group of South Africans to demonstrate against the actions of some foreign Nationals who are doing illegal businesses. The participants will be calling on the Government to deport illegal Nigerians,Zimbabweans and pakistanes.In most cases burglary is part and parcel of the match and always brings business to a standstill. That is why the chairman of African Diaspora Marc Gbaffou was really very concerned.

Consequently, shops that do not have burglar roller doors are the target yet the persons who generally rent these shops are foreign nationals who pay high monthly rentals, water, parking, electricity and taxes for their flats and shops and also pay salaries to the descent South Africans whom they employ.

Their flats and shops and also pay salaries to the descent South Africans whom they employ.

Xenophobia is wrong. South Africans, during their long struggle for freedom got brotherly assistance from several African countries- which accepted them as their own. This should be the time to thank these fellow Africans, not to harm them. Besides, Mother Africa is large enough for all of us to live, in any of her magnificent parts. Let not the Trump mentality be replicated in South Africa. We deserve better.

About the writer:
Masanga Hamza.
PhD Candidate University of South Africa (Islamic finance and Banking)

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Written by How Africa

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