Thursday, August 19, 2010

S.Africans need to change attitudes’

Researchers and non-governmental organisations say socio-economic problems are not the only causes for xenophobic violence.
Panelists at a roundtable discussion hosted by the Helen Suzman Foundation on Wednesday night agreed there are multiple causes.

More than 60 people were killed and thousands more displaced when a wave of xenophobic attacks rocked the country in May 2008.

Earlier this year fears about a possible second wave of violence against African foreigners spiked, with threats of attacks after the World Cup rife in many townships.

There were reports of shops and informal businesses owned by foreigners in Johannesburg and the Western Cape being looted last month.

Aubrey Matshiqi, from the Centre for Policy Studies, said xenophobia begins with South African’s attitudes.

"It is our prejudice that is the root cause of these xenophobic attacks. We are homophobic; we are racist; we are tribalist; we are xenophobic."

The Jesuit Refugee Service’s David Holcroft said there are multiple causes fueling xenophobia.

"What we call xenophobia is often an attempt at gaining political or economic advantage and power; sometimes it involves criminality of a wider nature," said Holcroft.

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