The Centre for The Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) has called on civil society, elected officials and other political and community leaders to heed warning signs amid calls for a march against foreign nationals in Tshwane.
Residents in Pretoria are planning to march in Marabastad to voice their grievances. Some of their concerns have included allegations that foreign nationals are involved in hijacking buildings, running brothels and drug dens, taking over business in the city and being employed ahead of locals. During his state of the province address, Gauteng Premier David Makhura addressed xenophobic attacks and called on all leaders to handle the matter of migrants with a great deal of sensitivity and care due to their vulnerability. "In any country, migrants and refugees are very vulnerable people," he said.
CSVR has seen improved engagement by many leaders seeking to address xenophobic attitudes. We call for continued leadership engagement to mediate community concerns following media reports on violence, destruction of property and looting of foreign-owned businesses.
CSVR has seen that xenophobic violence has been linked to socioeconomic grievances, service delivery and has been subject to political manoeuvring. It is therefore important that leadership not only engage with hateful agendas which spur violence, but also give due attention to the legitimate concerns for socioeconomic rights and service delivery that are essential for all people residing in South Africa.
"The organization condemns those calling for violence, but also highlights that violence diverts attention from the legitimate concerns of communities. This further encourages opportunists to mobilise frustrated communities in ways that prove counterproductive," said CSVR. "It is important that local and national leadership address the root causes of people's anger which manifests in such violent protests. To do this, political leaders must take action, engage communities and roll out services in a manner that is accountable," added the CSVR.