THE well-planned and coordinated pograms against immigrants continued yesterday and well into the night. It is clear from news reports and voices on the ground that the xenophobic attacks are are lot more sinister than one or two isolated incidents but represent a badly though-out attempt to capitalise on anti-immigrant sentiment, joblessness, poverty and rising food prices in order to hang the present administration and disrupt the coming elections before 2010.
Panic amongst immigrant communities affected by the pogroms is palpable. After the initial shock of the horrifying events in Gauteng, news that rioting and looting had spread to the Cape was greeted with dismay by activists on the ground who have been battling to assist communities with issues such as lack of housing, basic services and a food crisis that has hit the poor particularly harshly this year as winter takes its toll on health.
While some quarters are accusing the media of sensationalism and beating the fans of violence, the pictures published in various dailies brought home the stark reality of South Africa’s failure to grapple with immigration. How many times has the word “foreigner” been used to describe people whose ties with South Africa stem from well-before the 1994 democratic election?
How many so-called foreigners are parent to children born in South Africa and who have as much claim to citizenship as returned exiles?