Anti-Immigrant Violence Continues in South Africa – By Barry Bearak, New York Times

May 19th, 2008 Print Print Email Email

JOHANNESBURG — Violence against immigrants, like some windswept fire, spread across one neighborhood after another here in one of South Africa’s main cities at the weekend, and the police said the mayhem left at least 12 people dead — beaten by mobs, shot, stabbed or burned alive. (more…)

JOHANNESBURG — Violence against immigrants, like some windswept fire, spread across one neighborhood after another here in one of South Africa’s main cities at the weekend, and the police said the mayhem left at least 12 people dead — beaten by mobs, shot, stabbed or burned alive.

The violence continued to rage on Monday, as police fired rubber bullets and made arrests to try to quell the violence in and around Johannesburg, and said the death toll had reached 22, The Associated Press reported.

Thousands of panicked foreigners — many of them Zimbabweans who have fled their own country’s economic collapse — have now deserted their ramshackle dwellings and tin-walled squatter hovels to take refuge in churches and police stations.

On Monday, men wielding clubs and sticks patrolled along the road near one camp — apparently South Africans trying to prevent foreigners from returning, The A.P. said.

This latest outbreak of xenophobia began a week ago in the historic township of Alexandra and has since spread to other areas in and around Johannesburg, including Cleveland, Diepsloot, Hilbrow, Tembisa, Primrose, Ivory Park and Thokoza.

Amid so much violence, the police were spread thin, sending in squads of officers in armored vehicles. “We are using all available resources and will call in reinforcements if the need arises,” a police spokesman, Govindswamy Mariemuthoo, told reporters.President Thabo Mbeki said Sunday that he would set up a panel of experts to investigate the causes of the violence. Jacob Zuma, the president of the governing African National Congress and the man presumed to succeed Mr. Mbeki next year, called the attacks on foreigners a matter of national shame.

“We should be the last people to have this problem of having a negative attitude towards our brothers and sisters who come from outside,” Mr. Zuma said.

Many of South Africa’s current leaders sought shelter in neighboring countries during the apartheid years and were deeply embarrassed by the violence.

Newspaper editorials have called the outbursts a matter of using immigrants as scapegoats for South Africa’s problems. The official unemployment rate is 23 percent. Food prices have risen sharply. The crime rate is among the highest in the world.

And yet South Africa, with the most prosperous economy in the region, is a magnet that draws a continuing stream of job seekers from Malawi, Mozambique and elsewhere. An estimated three million Zimbabweans have sought refuge in their neighbor to the south, many of them fleeing here in recent months as Zimbabwe’s economy has utterly collapsed and political violence has intensified.

Mobs of South Africans shout: “Who are you? Where are you from?” as they maraud through the narrow streets they share with immigrants. They order people from their homes, steal their belongings and put padlocks on the houses.

Shops and businesses — many of them owned by Zimbabweans, Somalis and Pakistanis — have been looted. Many victims are legal residents with all the proper immigration documents. Some are being assaulted by neighbors they have known for years. However genuine the rage against immigrants, criminals have also made crafty use of the opportunity.

The police said they arrested more than 200 people over the weekend.

  1. Fiker
    | #1

    It is scary.Why they do that; they should live in peace with people. We know and inderstand that, it is their country but they should let peolpe to work with them. Why they do.What in he world make them to think like this.
    God bless the World
    God bless the people
    God bless ETHIOPIAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Angry@SAfricas
    | #2

    It is really embarassing and it proves one thing that I believed so far, “South Africans are the most stupid people on the whole planet”.

  3. dinka
    | #3

    SimplE explaining why this is happening!!!Melles was down in south Afica last week he talked bullshit as usual advising the government of south Africa that Ethiopians and Somalians are helping the oppositions in his country with the money they earned in south Africa he actually said that the day after he gave away our land to Sudan brothers and sisters these are the days stupid ignorant mad dogS like Melles are unleashed to recolonize Africa!to give it away for Arabs and Europeans;So do not be surprised why it happened but come toghether to fight back these people.TO BE VIGILANT AND FIGHT THEM BACK UNTIL WE BREAK FREE IS THE ONLY SOLUTION LEFT.

  4. Kerim
    | #4

    Do u forget what was happening to u during aparthaid? try to remember it & be a moral animal!!!

  5. Kasu
    | #5

    I have a brother in south Africa,and I was disturbed when I herd the news on BBC.My Ethiopian brother and sisters,this time, there is no place that welcome immigrant in passion,so let us claim our country.Every of us will live and work peacefully in our belove country.

    | #6

    The poor Ethiopia took over 3 million somali brothers/sisters and we live in peace sharing whatever we have . Learn fro us you dumb azz beasts…….No wonder the whites treated you like animals . That old man
    Mandela should come out and apologize for what his country men are doing …….

  7. selamawit
    | #7

    the ignorance ABESHA: as your name imlied you are the perfect ignorant.forget the name habesha and you need to be proud of being an ethiopian.excuseme I hate that word.

    the other thing is don’t throw your shit on the African dod mandela.

    pray for our brothers living there permanently or conventional.

  8. gemoraw
    | #8

    look what the negro is doing.if they are not perfect look how the wasterns treat atleast have can atleast move from place to place any time you want.

    the problem is being negro,being african…we are fighting at home for centuaries.from zimbabwe to darfur,from liberia to cotdivore,from the nigerian ribell to the government less somali,from ethiopia to eritrea….from bole to bale….where is the peace that God gave us as a human being or the smartest animal.

  9. abesha
    | #9


    You ugly monkey , go back to school and learn how to spell right …….

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