Dear Reader by gyvwpsjkko



  Political analysis and commentary from Southern Africa

  Dear Reader

            n the 11th of May 2008, South Africa was        South African authorities should have heeded? How
            shaken by the outbreak of a wave of violence    did dimensions of gender – and South Africa’s high
            characterised by an intensity and fierceness    levels of gender based violence – play out in this
            previously unknown in this young democracy      tragedy and how did the violence impact on female
  and reminiscent of apartheid bloodshed.                   migrants in particular?
      According to police statements by the end of last          This edition of Perspectives aims to engage with
  month 62 migrants were murdered, while hundreds,          some of these pressing issues, as well as explore the
  including women and children, have been attacked,         means by which future outbreaks of violence could
  raped, and have had their houses and belongings           be prevented, and processes of social integration
  looted or destroyed. The most severely affected           enhanced.
  groups are Africans from neighbouring states, such             While South African government explanations
  as Zimbabwe and Mozambique, but migrants from             of this outbreak have stressed the corrosive impact
  more distant countries, such as Nigeria and Somalia,      that decades of chronic poverty and lack of livelihood
  as well as a few South Africans, have also been victims   opportunities have had on South African communities,
  of attacks.                                               the articles presented on this platform make it clear
      Within the country, up to 35 000 people have fled     that this cannot be the only explanation for the brutal
  from their homes and are camping out in temporary         attacks that we have witnessed. There is no doubt that
  shelters, churches and police stations. Thousands more    a great deal of frustration – with the slow pace of
  have returned to their countries of origin. According     substantive transformation since 1994 and insufficient
  to the Mozambican authorities, for instance, 26 000       improvements to the abhorrent living conditions
  people have crossed into Mozambique since the start       of many – has made certain groups vulnerable to
  of the unrest. During the second week of turmoil          calls for mobilization around a ‘scapegoat’. The ills
  President Thabo Mbeki agreed to call in the army          of the townships – crime, unemployment, lack of
  into the affected areas, to assist the South African      housing, and even HIV/AIDS – have all been pinned
  Police force which could not fully contain the riot       onto ‘foreigners’. The extent of the violence and the
  situation. While conditions have calmed down since,       methods used to act against migrants, however, seem
  a new humanitarian crisis may now be unfolding as         to indicate that socio-economic conditions may not be
  refugees in provisional reception camps struggle with     the sole cause for these attacks.
  inadequate shelter and supplies and brace themselves           As Vincent Williams makes evident in his
  for the outbreaks of disease already reported in many     article, xenophobia is not only pervasive in South
  areas.                                                    African society, but is also deeply rooted in the
      Many people are now asking themselves what            country’s history. He notes that while the South
  precipitated this massive outbreak of violence.           African authorities have acknowledged signals of
  What has led South African citizens to attack their       hostility towards foreign citizens in the past, timely
  neighbours, some of whom they had lived side by           and suitable actions across all levels of policy and
  side with for many years? Were these attacks truly        legislation did not follow.
  spontaneous, or were there warning signals that the            Romi Fuller’s contribution shows that violence

against migrants cannot be separated from violence          misconceptions of migrants and their impact on host
against women, which is chronically rife in South           communities, argues Zoe Nkongolo of NGO Africa
Africa. She draws attention to the fact that “violence      Unite. In his article he recounts how two programmes
is the norm in South Africa” and that, regrettably, the     that promoted interaction between local citizens and
brutal acts perpetrated against migrants largely reflect    migrants worked to cultivate mutual respect and
how South African society deals with minorities and         tolerance in Cape Town’s townships.
vulnerable groups.                                              As local and international media coverage of this
     Natalie Jaynes asks what the recent outbreak of        calamity wanes, it is our hope that the groundswell
violence means for the nation building process in           of solidarity of citizens and civil society seen in South
South Africa and for the concept of the ‘Rainbow            Africa over the past weeks does not stop. Support,
Nation’. She discusses how the concepts of “nation          commitment and empathy from all sectors of society
building” and ‘Rainbow Nation’ relate to each other         will be required to begin building the foundations of a
and analyses where South African society stands             genuinely tolerant and inclusive society.
with regards to the main pillars of nation building
- reconciliation and identity. She argues that the          Dr Antonie Katharina Nord
Rainbow Nation concept is future oriented and               Regional Director
demands on-going effort and vigilance.
     Lack of contact and engagement between                 Paula Assubuji
communities encourage stereotyping and                      Political & Human Rights Programme Manager

   vincent Williams
   Vincent is based at Idasa (the Institute for Democracy in South Africa) and is
   the South African Project Manager of the Southern African Migration Project
   (SAMP). He has been involved in migration policy processes in South Africa
   and in the region since 1997 and has written extensively on various issues
   related to migration.

Xenophobia in South Africa
       Overview and analysis

        he recent attacks on foreigners in various           first received prominent and high-level attention when
        townships around South Africa has forcefully         in 1998, the South African Human Rights Commission
        brought to the fore the extent of xenophobia         (SAHRC) and the United Nations High Commission
        towards specifically black foreigners in South       for Refugees (UNHCR) convened a Consultative
Africa. Xenophobia (defined as the ‘morbid dislike of        Conference and adopted the Braamfontein Statement,
foreigners’) is, however, not a new phenomenon in            which argues the following:
South Africa. The attacks on foreigners in South Africa               No one, whether in this country legally or not,

   can be deprived of his or her basic or fundamental            As early as 1995, a report by the Southern African
   rights and cannot be treated as less than human.The      Bishops’ Conference concluded that ‘There is no
   mere fact of being an [alien] or being without legal     doubt that there is a very high level of xenophobia
   status does not mean that one is fair game to all        in our country .... One of the main problems is
   manner of exploitation or violence or to criminal,       that a variety of people have been lumped together
   arbitrary or inhuman treatment. Foreigners in our        under the title of ‘illegal immigrants’, and the whole
   midst are entitled to the support and defence of our     situation of demonising immigrants is feeding the
   law and constitution.                                    xenophobia phenomenon.’
        Our Constitution states that we seek to construct        The conclusion that levels of xenophobia in
   a society where “human dignity, the achievement          South Africa are high was supported by a nationally
   of equality and the advancement of human rights          representative survey conducted by the Southern
   and freedoms” are abiding values.The Bill of Rights      African Migration Project (SAMP) in 1997 in which
   confers certain rights to “everyone”.These are the       it was found that 25% of South Africans wanted a
   rights to equality, human dignity, the right to life,    total prohibition of migration or immigration and
   freedom and security of the person, and the right not    22% wanted the South African government to return
   to be subject to slavery, servitude or forced labour.    all foreigners presently living here to their own
        [The] manifestation [of xenophobia] is a            countries. 45% of the sample called for strict limits
   violation of human rights. South Africa needs            to be placed on migrants and immigrants and 17%
   to send out a strong message that an irrational          wanted migration policy tied to the availability of jobs.
   prejudice and hostility towards non-nationals is         In the same survey, some 61% of respondents agreed
   not acceptable under any circumstances. Criminal         that migrants put additional strains on the country’s
   behaviour towards foreigners cannot be tolerated in      resources.
   a democratic society.                                         These xenophobic sentiments were confirmed
                                                            in a similar survey conducted in 2006 in which
     In addition to the Braamfontein Statement and          respondents continue to consider foreigners to be a
Plan of Action, the Consultative Conference also            threat to the social and economic well-being of South
resulted in the setting up of the Roll-Back Xenophobia      Africa. In the 2006 survey, more than two-thirds
Campaign, primarily for the purpose of conducting           say that foreigners use up resources such as water,
public education and awareness programmes on                electricity and health care destined for citizens. Two-
the rights of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants         thirds of respondents feel that foreigners from other
in South Africa with a view to reducing negative            African countries commit crimes and close to one
perceptions of, and hostility towards foreigners.           half (49%) say that foreigners bring diseases such as
     The initiative of the SAHRC and the UNHCR              HIV to South Africa. Thus, like in the 1997 survey,
came in the wake of several attacks on foreigners in        respondents in 2006 appear to continue to have a
various parts of the country, including the following:      negative view of the impact of foreigners on the
❏ Gangs of South Africans try to evict perceived            country and in fact it would appear that this view on
   ‘illegals’ from Alexandra township, blaming              certain issues has hardened with greater percentages
   them for increased crime, sexual attacks and             saying foreigners take up resources meant for citizens.
   unemployment. The campaign, lasting several                   Whenever there have been violent attacks
   weeks, was known as ‘Buyelekhaya’ (Go back               on foreigners, many politicians and government
   home).                                                   officials have tended to downplay the significance
❏ In 1997, local hawkers in central Johannesburg            of xenophobia, preferring to label such attacks as
   attack their foreign counterparts. The chairperson       opportunistic crime and ‘conflicts over resources’.
   of the Inner Johannesburg Hawkers Committee is           While crime and resource conflicts clearly play a part
   quoted as saying: ‘We are prepared to push them          in provoking these attacks, it is also apparent that the
   out of the city, come what may. My group is not          attacks are targeted primarily at black foreigners,
   prepared to let our government inherit a garbage         which confirms the xenophobic and racist nature
   city because of these leeches.’                          of the attacks. The argument is also made that these
❏ 1998 – three foreigners are killed on a train             attacks are as a result of the anger and frustration
   travelling between Pretoria and Johannesburg in          of communities ‘boiling over’ suggesting that they
   what is described as a xenophobic attack.                have just taken place ‘spontaneously’. However,

there is nothing spontaneous about these attacks.         is when such experiences are generalised and thus
If anything, it appears that they are part of a well      unsubstantiated – all foreigners take jobs or commit
organised campaign that targets foreigners living in      crimes – that it becomes problematic.
some of South Africa’s poorest communities, using             What then are the factors that cause and/or
the argument that foreigners steal jobs, are involved     contribute to xenophobia ?
in crime and are a drain on resources to whip up anti-
foreigner sentiments that ultimately result in the kind   isolation
of violence that we have been seeing.                     Perhaps the most obvious, and this would be
     Many political leaders and government officials      particularly applicable shortly after 1994, is the fact
appeared to be surprised that it was possible for         that South Africans still tend to see themselves as
xenophobic sentiments to be whipped up to the             separated from the rest of the African continent and,
extent that it was during the recent wave of violence.    combined with many years of isolation, do not easily
However, prompted by their concerns regarding             identify with other Africans. Increased migrant and
the increasing levels of xenophobia in South Africa,      refugee flows to South Africa since 1994 has meant
The South African Human Rights Commission and             that foreigners are now much more visible, leading to
the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign          the perception that South Africa is being ‘over-run’ by
Affairs convened a public hearing in November             millions of poor, illiterate Africans. Unsubstantiated
2004 and invited submissions from a variety of            claims about the presence of 5 – 8 million illegal
organisations and institutions. For the most part,        foreigners in South Africa contribute to this popular
those who participated in the hearing, including the      myth.
Minister of Home Affairs, expressed their concern
that unless measures were put in place to address the     relative Deprivation
problem of xenophobia, it was likely to get worse         Simultaneously, South Africans continue to have
rather than better. The hearing proposed a series of      high expectations of economic and social delivery
substantive measures to combat xenophobia, but it         following the advent of democracy. That these
appears as if none of the proposed measures were          expectations have not been met in terms of the scale
ever implemented.                                         and rate at which might have been anticipated, is a
     Importantly, the SAMP research suggests that         fact that has been acknowledged. Many South Africans
while there can be no doubt about the high levels         continue to be unemployed and poor, with little or
of xenophobia in South Africa, it is a ‘latent’ form      no access to basic social, health and welfare services.
of xenophobia. While most respondents generally           It is also apparent that many migrants and refugees
expressed negativity and hostility towards migrants       have been able to establish successful small businesses
and migration, few are likely to act on their feelings.   or trading operations; much more so than their South
When asked about the likelihood of taking action          African counterparts. In the past it was possible
against foreigners they thought were in the country       to blame poverty and the lack of development
illegally, 16% of the respondents indicated that they     on a government that was unrepresentative and
would get a group together to force foreigners to         illegitimate. This is no longer the case and, as happens
leave, whereas only 9% said that they were ‘likely’       in many countries across the world, foreigners are
to use violence and in this group, only 4% said that      often scapegoated for taking away opportunities from
they were ‘very likely’ to use violence. However, as      South Africans.
we have seen recently – it only takes one incident
for ‘latent’ xenophobia to be converted into ‘active’     Nation-Building
xenophobia.                                               The SAMP survey results show that, while South
     Both the 1997 and 2006 SAMP surveys show             Africans tend to hold negative views about each other,
that South Africans generally have little contact or      the nation-building project has had some impact on
experiences of interacting with foreigners, other         their collective views towards foreigners. Almost
than on a casual basis. This does not mean, however,      without exception across racial and income groups,
that there are no South Africans who have first-hand      attitudes towards foreigners are negative and steeped
experiences of being deprived of jobs, being victims      in stereotypes, reinforcing the perception that “they
of crime and so on, due to the presence of foreigners.    do not belong”. Thus, by virtue of not being South
These experiences cannot be denied. However, it           African citizens, foreigners are barred from a range of

economic, social and welfare benefits in a process that    and refugee policy and legislation must directly
has been described as “excluded by nation building”.       address the question of xenophobia, broadly in terms
                                                           of the orientation of policies and legislation, and
Public and Official Discourse                              specifically in terms of mechanisms to prevent and
Many of the beliefs about foreigners are based on          counter xenophobia.
ignorance and/or hearsay. Sweeping generalisations
are made about foreigners without any apparent             Human rights education
evidence or knowledge, and it is only when                 ‘Migrant and refugee rights are human rights’ –
confronted with actual evidence to the contrary, that      consistent with the thrust of current anti-xenophobia
some South Africans are willing to reconsider their        programmes, the rights of refugees and migrants,
views. For many South Africans, Africa continues           and the need to respect and protect those rights must
to be the ‘dark continent’, and they have very little      feature prominently.
knowledge of, or interest in the countries and
cultures that exist beyond the Limpopo, or indeed in       Data and information
getting to know their fellow Africans living in South      Given the levels of ignorance and misinformation
Africa.                                                    about migration and migrants, there is a crucial need
    In 2000 and again in 2004, SAMP did an analysis        for ongoing research. However, research should not
of print media coverage of cross-border migration in       be limited to questions about the extent and impact
South and Southern Africa’s major English-language         of migration, but should also focus on the attitudes
newspapers, drawing on more than 1,200 clippings           of citizens towards migrants. This will help focus
about migration between 1994 and 1998 and a                anti-xenophobia interventions in the medium to long-
further 950 clippings about migration between 2000         term.
and 2003. In sum, the SAMP findings suggest that
coverage of international migration by the South           Public and Official Discourse
African press has been largely anti-immigrant and          While there have been some achievements in terms
unanalytical. Not all reporting is negative, and           of beginning to change the public discourse about
newspaper coverage would appear to be improving            migration – at least to the extent that the use of
over time, but the overwhelming majority of the            terms such as ‘illegal aliens’ is now less prevalent,
newspaper articles, editorials and letters to the          the media, government spokespersons and opinion-
editor surveyed for this research were negative            makers need to be continually challenged when they
about immigrants and immigration and extremely             make unsubstantiated statements about the impact
superficial in nature – uncritically reproducing           of migration. As has become apparent from the
problematic statistics and assumptions about cross-        speech made by President Mbeki at the opening of
border migration.                                          parliament in February 2001 migrants can, and do,
    While not blaming the media as the cause of            make a contribution to the development of South
xenophobia, the report concludes that at best, the         Africa – this message has to be conveyed more
press have been presenting a very limited perspective      strongly. Broadly, the emerging discourse must
of cross-border migration dynamics, and in the             challenge the notion that migrants are responsible for
process leaving the South African public in the dark       the hardships suffered by South African citizens.
as to the real complexities at play. At worse, the press
have been contributing to xenophobic sentiments in         Opportunities for interaction
the general public by weaving myths and fabrications       One of the factors that contributes to ongoing
around foreigners and immigration.                         xenophobic attitudes is the lack of interaction
    In the context of the above, comprehensive anti-       between migrants and refugees and citizens.
xenophobia programmes need to incorporate and/or           Experience has shown that those citizens who have
make an impact on the following (this is not in any        had opportunities to interact with migrants and
particular order):                                         refugees in a meaningful way, are less likely to be
                                                           xenophobic. These processes of interaction, however,
Legislative and Policy Frameworks                          will only succeed if they are specifically constructed
In addition to the human rights framework established      to allow for dialogue and meaningful interaction. By
by the Constitution and Bill of Rights, immigration        implication, this means that such interaction cannot

just be coincidental, but needs to be organised and       manner than is currently the case. This is not to
facilitated.                                              propose the creation of a new organisation, but rather
                                                          the establishment of a formalised network of “anti-
Going beyond the debate(s)                                xenophobia” or more broadly, migrants and refugee
Much of the current anti-xenophobia work is focused       rights organisations and activities.
on attempting to shift the debate(s) about migration.          Reducing or eliminating xenophobia is not just
The starting point is usually in response to the          about human rights education and awareness, but also
belief held by South African citizens, that millions      fundamentally about changing attitudes and behaviour.
of poverty-stricken, illiterate migrants and refugees     At the core of counter-xenophobia strategies and
are invading the country and competing unfairly for       programmes should be the understanding that
access to social, welfare and economic opportunities.     attitudinal and behavioural change is brought about
However, it is well known that many migrants and          by two factors: Firstly, by making it possible for an
refugees bring with them significant entrepreneurial      individual to understand how his or her attitude
and other skills and expertise. Many are also well        or behaviour, whether implicit or explicit, may be
qualified academically. The problem is that South         harmful (emotionally, psychologically and sometimes
Africans are not easily persuaded to change their         physically) to others. The second and related factor
perceptions, based simply on what they are told about     has to do with the social environment in which the
the profiles and potential contribution of migrants and   individual finds her or himself. If the environment
refugees. Thus, the value that migrants and refugees      does not condone discriminatory attitudes or
add, and in particular, the extent to which they can      behaviour, it makes it more difficult for an individual
make a difference to the lives of South Africans, needs   to continue with such practices. Thus, while counter-
to be demonstrated in a concrete manner.                  xenophobia programmes need to be directed at
                                                          individuals and communities, it is equally important
Peer education                                            that a policy and legislative framework should be
The results of the SAMP surveys showed that the           developed that effectively ‘outlaws’ xenophobic
majority of respondents were very negative towards        attitudes and behaviour.
migrants and migration in general, but that there              However, it is not coincidental that the recent
were no readily identifiable characteristics that were    attacks on foreigners occurred primarily in informal
exclusive to people who are xenophobic. Xenophobic        settlements – South Africa’s most impoverished
attitudes were more or less equally widespread            communities. It is also not helpful to deny that anger
across racial groups, income levels, gender and so on.    and frustration about their squalid socio-economic
However, there was also a significant minority who        have driven many to blame and attack asylum seekers,
was not xenophobic and supported the development          refugees and migrants as the cause of their misery,
of a more liberal immigration policy in South Africa.     however misguided and ill-informed such attacks
This prompted the question – why are some people          may have been. In addition to acknowledging and
not xenophobic? Does it have to do with a particular      addressing the problem of xenophobia, there is also a
set of experiences, beliefs or value system?              vital need to pay attention to the socio-economic and
     The fact that there is a cadre of people who are     political factors that have and continue to contribute
not xenophobic provides an important opportunity          to high levels of xenophobia, including the failure of
for building a “movement” of peer educators that          state and community institutions to intervene in and
can operate in a number of different settings.            mediate the conflict between different interest groups
The significance and value of such activities is          and communities.
clearly demonstrated by the achievements of some
community-based organisations that have adopted this

establishing a network
There are a number of initiatives and activities,
aimed at reducing levels of xenophobia, that are
already underway. It is critically important that
these initiatives be coordinated in a more substantial

     romi Fuller
     Romi is currently a project manager in the Transitional
     Justice Programme at the Centre for the Study of Violence and
     Reconciliation (CSVR), overseeing the Violence and Transition
     Project. Prior to that, she was a researcher in the Gender Programme
     at CSVR, specialising in sexual violence research. Romi has a BA
     (Honours) from Rhodes University, as well as a Senior Status BA and
     a Masters in Women’s Studies from Oxford University. Before joining
     CSVR she worked as the Managing Editor of the academic medical
     ethics journals Bioethics and Developing World Bioethics.

Double Jeopardy
    Women migrants and refugees in South Africa

introduction                                                                   jeopardy that renders women especially vulnerable
Against the backdrop of the pervasive culture of                               in this deepening crisis. While the perpetrators of
violence in South Africa, ‘it is ironic that xenophobia                        the xenophobic violence in South Africa have not
has been represented as something abnormal or                                  differentiated on the basis of gender or age in their
pathological. Xenophobia is a form of violence and                             attacks on migrants and refugees, there is a gendered
violence is the norm in South Africa. Violence is an                           perspective to xenophobia which can easily be
integral part of the social fabric’.1 Violence against                         overlooked in the midst of the horror.
migrants/refugees and violence against women are
two forms of violence that are viewed with horror                              the Nature of the conflict
by the general public and outside world but are, in                            While violence against women is mostly perceived to
fact, normalised ways in which South African society                           be domestic or private in nature, the Rome Protocol
interacts with minority and vulnerable groups.                                 and the International Criminal Court have recognised
The double jeopardy that faces refugee and migrant                             sexual violence in conflict situations (motivated by a
women is just that: they are at the intersection of these                      woman’s nationality, ethnicity or religious views) as
two groups that are so vulnerable to exploitation,                             a weapon of war, which can be prosecuted as such,
abuse and violence.2                                                           thus legitimising the concept of sexual violence as a
    While reports in the media have described the                              political tool. One may ask, however, what constitutes
brutality of the attacks on foreign nationals that                             a ‘conflict setting’ within which violence against
have swept South Africa in May 2008 – which have                               women can be escalated to a priority crime? Certainly,
included people being beaten, stabbed, torched and                             it could be argued that the wave of recent xenophobic
dispossessed of their belongings and homes – there                             violence in South Africa – leaving more than 50
has been little consideration paid to the double                               people dead, injuring hundreds more and displacing
                                                                               thousands, in which the government has had to deploy
1 Harris, B. (2002). Xenophobia: A New Pathology for a New South Africa? In    the army to reinforce a police force unable to cope
Hook, D. & Eagle, G. (eds) Psychopathology and Social Prejudice. Cape Town:    with the magnitude of the violence – does constitute a
University of Cape Town Press.
2 Migrants and refugees are, by their very status as foreigners, vulnerable    conflict situation (albeit localised and target-specific).
to xenophobia (the attitudes, prejudices and behaviour that reject, exclude
                                                                               The line between political and criminal violence in
and often vilify persons, based on the perception that they are outsiders or
foreigners to the community, society or national identity).                    the current situation in South Africa is blurred: while

the violence perpetrated against foreign nationals is     many societies, womanhood is seen as inseparable
political in as much as it is motivated by dynamics       from motherhood, and motherhood becomes a central
of inclusion and exclusion, access to resources and       part of a woman’s identity. Ingrid Palmary explains
nationalist identities, it also provides a space for      that, ‘as a result of the social meaning of motherhood,
opportunistic criminal violence. The violence against     [a woman] has a particular experience of violence,
women that has formed such an integral part of the        trauma, loss and social belonging … her distress at
xenophobic violence has complex roots in both the         being unable to provide meaningfully for her child
political and criminal spheres.                           is acute’3. Many migrant and refugee women have
    In addition, violence against women in such a         been responsible for protecting their young children
situation straddles the public/private divide. Domestic   from the violence, which has entailed displacement
violence that may occur as a result of the heightened     to temporary shelters or places of safety where there
atmosphere of violence, or rape that occurs as a result   is insufficient access to food, blankets and sanitation.
of xenophobia, tends to be demarcated as happening        Migrant and refugee women in South Africa tend to
within the domestic or private realm. This has            emphasise socio-economic needs and trauma over
implications not only for women’s access to justice,      mental ones and, as such, may depict the primary
framing the recourse that women seek following such       way in which they are targeted as by having their
a violation, but also for processes of peace-building     possessions taken from them.4
and reconciliation, from which women may be                    The above is exemplified by two poignant
excluded if they do not see themselves as victims of      examples:
politically motivated crimes.                                  Filizarda Mbanza, found sitting against a wall
                                                               cradling her three-month-old baby, told UNHCR
the Burden of care                                             visitors that she fled her shack on the outskirts
In violent conflict situations, women represent a              of Germiston last Saturday when her neighbour
relatively easy target: they often lack the physical           shouted that a crowd whipped up by xenophobia
capacity to fight back and may render themselves               was approaching. ‘I was terrified! My husband was
defenceless by considering the protection of their             at work and I was alone with the baby.What was I
families and possessions a first priority. As a result,        to take from our shack? The warnings were drawing
women have not been exempt from the common                     closer and I was in a panic. I had to get out there
assault and beatings that have been inflicted on               before my baby and I were attacked’, Mbanza
foreigners in the townships. In addition, the fear that        recalled. Strapping the baby to her back, Mbanza
accompanies a position of defencelessness can strip a          followed other fleeing families to the nearest police
woman of her agency and perpetuate her status as a             station.The police took them to the Germiston
helpless victim.                                               Community Hall. ‘I don’t even know how I arrived
    ‘Woman’ (and the associated categories of wife,            here. My mind was just in turmoil. My husband, was
mother and daughter) is a social position that comes           he still alive? My house, my goods ... I am just broken
with a range of expectations and investments: women            hearted,’ the dazed woman said.5
are the traditional carers of their families, with the              As a woman it’s really painful, because normally
responsibility to feed, clothe and provide shelter for         when you think in African culture, a mother is a
their children. As such, xenophobia targets women              mother to everybody … but here we do not have the
and children because they are central to making                opportunity because everybody is strange to you. … I
settlement happen: while migrant men may be seen by            think as mothers we suffer a lot, because the mother is
a host population as transitory, women and children            like the heart of the house and when you try to bring
denote a more permanent move and the laying down               to feed … to feed the body, and everything come
of roots. Migrant and refugee women in the townships           to the heart, it’s painful; but you did try to knock
have been disproportionately affected by the recent            there, you were refused, the whole family suffers.The
xenophobia, not only because the violence has played           children, the family, the whole family suffer.6
out on the site of their bodies (through beatings and
rape), but also because the violence has been directed    3 Palmary, I. (2005). EngenderingWartime Conflict:Women and war trauma.
                                                          Violence and Transition Series, December.
towards their homes (through burning and looting),        4 Ibid.
                                                          5 UNHCR distributes aid to South Africa’s xenophobia victims, Date: 21
which in many cases is symbolic of a woman’s family
                                                          May 2008: UNHCR News Stories
and is perceived as a place of safety and security. In    6 Unpublished interview with a Rwandan refugee woman, 2008.

sexual violence                                             of criminal violence against a woman because of her
Many migrant and refugee women in South Africa              gender, under the guise of xenophobia. Unfortunately,
would have already experienced sexual violence,             probably most of the xenophobia-related rapes are
in their home country and/or during their journey           unreported because migrant and refugee women are
to South Africa. Furthermore, some women would              fearful of the police: firstly, as migrants or refugees
have been forced to exchange sexual favours with            in an environment where the police have a reputation
border officials for permission to enter the country. A     for complicity in corruption, intimidation and abuse
Rwandan woman, living in South Africa for 10 years,         of foreigners; and secondly, as women in a society
explained to researchers at the Centre for the Study        where the victims of sexual violence are often treated
of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) that, ‘I noticed      with scepticism and suffer secondary victimisation
that in Home Affairs … when you are a woman they            at the hands of police officials. Jonathan Crush of the
have a tendency of trying to take you to a situation        Southern African Migration Project (SAMP) supports
where they would say that we would extend your              this view when he explains that in a study conducted
paper, but you must accept to sleep with me, to be my       by SAMP, police officers were particularly accused of
friend’.7                                                   destruction of travel documents, excluding women
     Now there have been reports of migrant and             from legal assistance, protection and basic services,
refugee women being raped as a result of anti-              and soliciting bribes and sex from immigrant women.8
foreigner sentiment in the midst of the general
perpetration of xenophobic violence. Systematic rape        “they’re taking Our Jobs and Our Women”
is often used as a weapon of war in ‘ethnic cleansing’      A common justification for the xenophobic violence
– although South Africa is not at war, it can be argued     offered by perpetrators and public alike is, “they’re
that the current situation is a ‘conflict situation’ and    taking our jobs and our women”.
in a conflict situation the sexual violation of women            Harris refers to Tshitereke’s psychological
can erode the fabric of a community in a way that few       interpretation of scapegoating in conjunction with
weapons can. Rape cuts cross cultures in terms of           the socio-economic realities of contemporary South
male domination, and rape in conflict situations serves     Africa as one framework through which to understand
to dominate and tame not only the women survivors           the current xenophobia. She reminds us that ‘the
who are its immediate victims, but also all the men         psychological process of relative deprivation rests
that are socially connected to them by delivering the       on social comparison. This takes place at the level
message that they are not strong enough to protect          of jobs, houses, education and even women, such
their women. From this point of view, rape in war           that foreigners are scapegoated for taking our jobs,
or conflict is a means of committing genocide, by           taking our houses and stealing our women. Politics,
destroying a particular group or nation’s identity.         economics and patriarchy impact on the scapegoating
The shame that women experience following sexual            process.’9
violence may render women increasingly isolated and              Migrants are increasingly targeted as the
unable to talk about the rape – this is exacerbated in      scapegoats for all manner of domestic problems
conflict situations, where displacement breaks down         facing societies today, particularly unemployment,
social relationships and serves to undermine social         crime, and limited access to services. In reality, many
support as an important source of healing.                  migrant and refugee women in South Africa have
     In a country where sexual violence is pervasive        limited employment opportunities and are often
in everyday life, it is difficult to distinguish how many   at the bottom of the labour market. Many of these
rapes have been motivated by xenophobic attitudes           women hold jobs in free trade zones, the informal
and how many rapes have been perpetrated because            economy or unregulated sectors. As such, their access
the general atmosphere of violence and lawlessness          to state services such as health, education and justice
has allowed for it. This speaks again to the double         is also limited, especially if they are undocumented
jeopardy of migrant and refugee women: rape can be          migrants or illegal immigrants. Women migrants in
used to punish and humiliate women from different           South Africa stated that they were often met with
nationalities and ethnic groups as a political tool of
xenophobia; and rape can be perpetrated as an act           8 Crush, J. 2007. Voices from the Margins: migrant Women’s Experiences in
                                                            Southern Africa. SAMP.
                                                            9 Harris, B. (2001). A Foreign Experience: Violence, Crime and Xenophobia
7 Ibid.                                                     During South Africa’s Transition. Violence and Transition Series, Vol. 5, August.

xenophobic attitudes, received substandard medical          women’ comments not only on a strong patriarchal
treatment, were overcharged for services, or were           social order, it also connotes a hostile, negative
directly turned away from hospitals and clinics. A          attitude towards foreign men. A constant threat of
number of them were of the view that city hospitals         violence rests within this attitude.
in Johannesburg were least likely to offer treatment
to migrants.10 Women often will have moved to South         the trauma of Migrant and refugee Women
Africa because of political repression or economic               After being threatened with rape and losing her
hardships in their home country and, rather than                 home on May 19, Ntokozo Msebele, a Zimbabwean
being a burden on the state, are entrepreneurial and             national, told Human Rights Watch that she
resourceful people who want to improve their own                 now fears local residents, but is equally fearful of
lives and the lives of their families.                           returning to Zimbabwe: ‘It is hell there.There is no
     However, it is not only migrant and refugee                 food, no work. At least in South Africa I had work.
women who have been vulnerable to the xenophobic                 But what our future is here now, I do not know.The
violence. South African women have been cited as                 mobs took everything I have.We know now that we
a site of conflict between South African nationals               are hated in Alex’.11
and foreign nationals. Black South African men                   This story articulates how many migrant and
have accused foreigners of “taking our women”.              refugee women in South Africa have been subjected
This speaks directly to the pervasive ideology of           to compounded trauma in recent weeks. Many
patriarchy in South Africa, which is so entrenched          migrant and refugee women are in South Africa
that women are broadly perceived as possessions             after having fled conflict-zones, sexual and domestic
that can be “owned” by different groups of men.             violence, and political and/or economic repression
Sexual violence is well documented in South African         in their home countries. This initial trauma is
research as a means to control and punish women:            compounded by the insecurity and violence they
rape is therefore used against South African women          now face in South Africa. Interestingly, Palmary
as a means of controlling or curbing their agency in        points out that women often do not see their
choosing foreign men and as a punishment for their          violations as part of political conflict but instead tend
waywardness. Many writers have commented on the             to view them as personal or domestic violations.
ways that women’s bodies and sexuality are central          As explained above, the fact that women see their
to the construction of ethnic and national identity: as     violations as domestic rather than political means
such, refusing such gendered norms by preferring a          there is a very real possibility that women may be
foreign man disrupts projects of nationalism and can        left out of reconciliation and justice mechanisms
be the basis of violent assault. This means that South      in their home and host countries. In addition, this
African women marrying foreigners are vulnerable to         means that the resistance and resilience that women
attack and to sexual violence.                              do show to the violence perpetrated against them in
     Gender relations between South Africans are            conflict settings is seldom acknowledged and often
marked by physical violence. Research conducted             played down as ‘private’ or ‘domestic’ violence.12
by the Centre for the Study of Violence and
Reconciliation (CSVR) suggested that because of             Addressing Women’s specific and Urgent Needs
high levels of violence operating between South             in the current situation
African men and women in the domestic sphere,               The following points are concrete steps that can be
South African men are represented by foreign men            followed to alleviate the problem of xenophobia, as
as ‘brutes’ who do not respect the rights of women.         it relates to women:
Foreign nationals argued that it is largely for this        ❏ Ensure that the Department of Social
reason that South African women prefer foreign men.             Development takes swift action to ensure that all
The underlying suggestion is that foreign men respect           those affected by xenophobic violence have the
women and are not violent towards them. This point              material support that they need including food,
testifies directly to the strong culture of violence that       shelter, and emergency supplies;
operates within ordinary South African interactions.
The South African accusation that ‘they steal our           11 Human Rights Watch (2008). South Africa: Punish Attackers
                                                            in Xenophobic Violence. Available at:
10 Crush, op. cit. note 8.                                  12 Palmary, op. cit. note 3.

❏   Ensure that the Department of Health takes           ❏   Provide immediate training to all police and
    immediate action to provide medical and                  immigration officials on the rights of non-South
    psycho-social services to women who have been            Africans and hold accountable any official who
    subjected to sexual violence, including access to        fails to carry out their duties in accordance with
    post exposure prophylaxis (PEP) to prevent HIV           their mandate;
    infection;                                           ❏   Effective implementation and enforcement of
❏   Issue a clear message that further sexual violence       immigration laws to ensure the protection of non-
    against women will be punished to the full extent        South Africans and South Africans alike; and
    of the law;                                          ❏   Enact legislation and measures that will ensure
❏   Publicise and make clear the roles and                   the prevention, combating and punishment of
    responsibilities of the Refugee Relief Board             hate crimes and speech.13
    and the counter-xenophobia unit within the
    Department of Home Affairs;
❏   Urgently develop and implement coordinated           Bibliography
                                                         Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (2008). Unpublished
    action plans with UN agencies and civil society      interview with a Rwandan refugee woman.
    organisations working with migrants and refuges      Crush, J. (2007). Voices from the Margins: migrantWomen’s Experiences in Southern
                                                         Africa. Southern Africa Migration Project.
    in each of the nine provinces. These plans take      Harris, B. (2002). Xenophobia: A New Pathology for a New South Africa? In Hook,
    into account and respond directly to the gender      D. & Eagle, G. (eds) Psychopathology and Social Prejudice. Cape Town:
                                                         University of Cape Town Press.
    sensitive needs and rights of women, and             Harris, B. (2001). A Foreign Experience: Violence, Crime and Xenophobia
    accompanied minors;                                  During South Africa’s Transition. Violence and Transition Series, Vol. 5, August.
                                                         Human Rights Watch (2008). South Africa: Punish Attackers in Xenophobic
❏   Fast track the prosecution of perpetrators of        Violence.
                                                         One in Nine Campaign (2008). Press Release on the xenophobic violence
    xenophobic violence to ensure that critical
                                                         Palmary, I. (2005). EngenderingWartime Conflict:Women and war trauma. Violence
    witnesses are available to testify;                  and Transition Series, December.
                                                         UNHCR News Stories (21 May 2008). UNHCR distributes aid to South
❏   Use government resources and media channels to       Africa’s xenophobia victims.
    launch a nationwide anti-xenophobia campaign in
    print, radio, television and internet media;
❏   Set up an urgent inquiry into the root causes of     13 Taken from the One in Nine Campaign Press Release on the xenophobic
    the xenophobic violence;                             violence.

   Natalie Jaynes
   Natalie is a project leader in the Reconciliation and Reconstruction
   Programme at the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, a Cape Town
   based non-profit organization that works in the field of transitional
   justice both in South Africa and in other African countries. She heads
   up a project called ‘Building an Inclusive Society’ that brings together
   various interest communities with a view to reconciliation and nation-
   building through dialogue. Jaynes holds a post graduate degree in Theology and is completing a masters
   in Transitional Justice at the University of Cape Town.

The state of nation building in South Africa
in light of the recent xenophobic attacks

             hen looking at the public and private          loaded terms and require careful explanation. Falling
             response to the recent spate of xenophobic     under the banner of nation-building, reconciliation
             attacks that have occurred across South        is about previously divided groups learning to
             Africa, one is struck by its incoherence.      live together in a spirit of respect and dignity.
Like a boxer that has received an almighty blow             National identity denotes a collection of symbols
to the head, South Africans have been stumbling             that help individuals to relate to one another on an
around, punch-drunk, to make sense of something             equal footing. These definitions are by no means
that caught the country by complete surprise. In its        conceptually exhaustive but can be used as tools in
wake, some have called it the death of the Rainbow          taking stock of South Africa’s nation-building task.
Nation; others have more cautiously suggested that
this is a timely reprimand to a nation that has strayed     reconciliation
from its accomplishments of the early nineties. Most        Scepticism concerning the use of the term Rainbow
do, however, agree that it has shattered any pretence,      Nation is not something that has emerged only now
which many South Africans have still harboured, about       in the wake of the xenophobic attacks. Some, like
our exceptionality as a moral beacon of the world.          political analyst Adam Habib, have already cautioned
     An important challenge for the country in the          very early after the advent of democracy against the
coming months and years would be to establish               application of the rainbow metaphor without carefully
exactly where it finds itself in terms of nation-building   looking at its underlying political assumptions.1
after the rude awakening of the past month. Can we          He argued that it ran the danger of perpetuating a
still be so presumptuous to claim that we are, in the       disproportionate focus on racial reconciliation, as
words of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, the              opposed to all the other social schisms that have been
Rainbow Nation of God?                                      ingrained by four decades of apartheid. It is therefore
     In trying to make sense of these questions it          very simplistic to try and interpret the violence of
may be useful to look at the question of nation-            apartheid solely in racial terms.
building through the lens of two of its building blocks         Indeed the entire apartheid ideology was based
– reconciliation and identity. While the task of nation-    very strongly on presumptions about race and the
building has been defined and debated extensively,          need for separate development of South Africans of
most definitions give prominence to the concepts of
                                                            1 Adam Habib, “Myth of the Rainbow Nation: Prospects for the
identity and reconciliation, as critical components.
                                                            Consolidation of Democracy in South Africa”, African Security Review, volume
     Both reconciliation and national identity are          5 No. 6, 1996.

different racial backgrounds. Although it therefore           already been done in the recommendations made
caused immeasurable damage to relations between               in the Truth Commission’s Final Report in terms
South Africans from different racial and cultural             of individual and community reparations. While
backgrounds, the structural damage, caused the                these recommendations for reparations are in no
economic disenfranchisement of black South Africans,          way sufficient in terms of addressing the systemic
continues to be apartheid’s most stubborn legacy. The         economic injustice of apartheid; they are a start. To
rainbow metaphor therefore almost becomes obscene,            date these recommendations have not been addressed
if one fails to understand and confront the much              and the President’s Fund which was set up for this
deeper economic realities that underlie it.                   purpose remains largely untouched.2 Perhaps civil
     While this argument is often made at the meta-           society engagement around these recommendations
level as it relates to an entire society, it might serve      could open up the necessary space for broader public
as well to extrapolate this to the personal level in          discourse on this issue.
order to understand that it has a tangible impact in               Making reconciliation relevant in 2008 means that
terms of fear, insecurity, but also anger. Without the        the political and social legacy of apartheid cannot be
eradication, or at least alleviation, of their condition of   divorced from its economic legacy. The implication of
poverty, there is absolutely no incentive to reconcile        this broadening exercise is that reconciliation becomes
with other citizens regardless of their race. When            a more inclusive process encouraging “individuals
a struggle has deteriorated from one focussing on             [to] think and work beyond ‘me and my future’, to
subsistence to one that aims merely for survival, as          embrace a concern for ‘we and our future’”.3
it has for many in recent months, social cohesion,
and by implication, national reconciliation becomes a         identity
casualty.                                                     A ‘concern for we and our future’ brings the question
     This is an important perspective that should             of identity to the fore. Simply put the concept of
not be ignored when we try to understand what has             identity refers to how we see ourselves in relation to
happened over the past month. While racism still              others and the wider community. National identity
plagues South Africa, most South Africans don’t               denotes a collection of symbols that help individuals
regard it as the primary source of division anymore.          to relate to one another on an equal footing.
As successive rounds of the Institute for Justice and             Immediately following the negotiated settlement
Reconciliation’s SA Reconciliation Barometer Survey           there emerged a discourse around the need for a
have shown, economic inequality now tops that                 South African national identity. While there were
list. Of course the two intersect, but the economic           some critics, the general sentiment was positive and
component now seems to be carrying far more weight            significant efforts were made to sketch a unifying
than that of race.                                            national identity that would serve the aims of nation-
     In terms of recent events Chairperson of the South       building. Archbishop Tutu’s metaphor of the Rainbow
African Human Rights Commission Jody Kollapen                 Nation was accompanied by a range of other symbols.
has cautioned that it is unrealistic to seek to address       National sports teams, the new flag and anthem and
xenophobic sentiments amongst communities without             a whole ‘proudly South African’ campaign carried
addressing the economic dimensions and competition            marks of what it meant to be South African. The public
for resources.                                                broadcaster adopted the slogan ‘Simunye – we are
     This is not to suggest that an either/or approach        one’ and South African Breweries advertised Castle
to reconciliation and nation-building should be               Lager with the slogan ‘One Beer, One Nation’.
followed. Racial reconciliation has been, and continues           The sceptic may argue that these symbols reflect
to be, a necessary priority. This was particularly            nothing more than marketing opportunism. Even so,
the case in the immediate aftermath of the political          the cumulative effect of these symbols was something
transition. But perhaps there has not been enough             however superficial, that all could point to as ‘South
urgency about the way in which we addressed the               African’. This kind of national identity worked well
question of economic redress since 1994. In 2008 we
have been reminded quite forcefully of this.
                                                              2 See 2006/07 President’s Fund Annual Report
     The contours of this kind of expanded approach           za/reports/other/2006-2007_ANR_Presidents%20Fund.pdf.
                                                              3 Charles Villa-Vicencio, “Reconciliation” in Pieces of the Puzzle: Keywords
to reconciliation have yet to find clear articulation
                                                              on Reconciliation and Transitional Justice. Charles Villa-Vicencio and Erik
in South African civil society. Some groundwork has           Doxtader (eds.), Cape Town: IJR. 2004:8.

at a particular point in history and contributed to the                          identity as the Rainbow Nation is about what we could
task of nation-building.                                                         become.
     In 2008, many of these unifying symbols                                          The problem with using future oriented lenses to
have either lost their novelty or have disappeared                               view identity and reconciliation is that these concepts
altogether. Interestingly, the Rainbow Nation                                    can take on utopian dimensions in the sense that
metaphor still captures the South African imagination.                           it is impossible to ‘arrive’ at these goals. Similarly,
This has been apparent in the cartoons that have                                 overly procedural definitions can misguidedly sketch
recently employed this metaphor.4 Although these                                 reconciliation and identity formation as a ‘how to’
cartoons use the Rainbow metaphor as a reminder of                               exercise and a premature end point can be reached
the country’s failings, it is nonetheless significant that                       once all the correct blocks have been ticked off.
this metaphor still serves as a popular symbol.                                       One of the insights that the Institute for Justice
     Alex Boraine (co-chairperson of the South                                   and Reconciliation has come to appreciate in its
African Truth and Reconciliation Commission) offers                              work relating to national reconciliation, is that it
helpful direction in reflecting on the Rainbow Nation                            requires a very delicate balance between ‘goal’ and
symbol and hence also the question of identity in                                ‘process’. This opportunity for introspection that the
post-apartheid South Africa. He suggests that when                               events of the past month has offered, reminds us that
Archbishop Tutu invoked the image of the Rainbow                                 transitional justice requires momentum in order to
Nation, he was not employing a “language of fact, but                            yield significant gains. The analogy of peddling on a
of faith” thereby challenging society “To become what                            bicycle - one needs to keep peddling in order to move
it is called to be. This image embodies a promise of                             – comes to mind.
what is possible in the future”.5                                                     While we wrestle with what it means to be the
     If we follow Boraine’s line of thought then Tutu’s                          Rainbow Nation in the midst of our own violence
Rainbow Nation is linked to an understanding of                                  against each other – we would do well to again draw
identity that is decidedly future oriented. A national                           on the wisdom of Archbishop Tutu who has told us
                                                                                 that the price of true freedom is eternal vigilance.6

4 One example can be found at
5 Boraine, A. (2000). The Language of Potential. After the TRC: Reflections
on Truth and Reconciliation in South Africa. W. James and L. v.d. Vijver. Cape   6 “Real Leadership”, Harold Wolpe Memorial Trust Tenth Anniversary
Town: David Philip Publishers: 73-81.                                            Memorial Lecture. 23 August, 2006.

   Zoë Nkongolo tshikaya
   Zoë is an engineer by training and came to South Africa from Zaïre
   (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) 14 years ago. He has been
   involved in lobbying and advocacy for the rights of migrants and
   refugees since then. In 1995, he was a founding member of the Cape
   Town Refugee Centre and he was the founder and chairperson of the
   Refugee Committee of Cape Town 1995-99. From 1998-2002, Zoë was
   Senior Program Manager for Integration and Community Development at
   the Cape Town Refugee Centre and in 2002/03 started the organisation
   ‘Africa Unite’ that brings together South Africans and refugees around capacity building for conflict resolution,
   human rights, peace, arts and culture. Africa Unite has since established branches in Cape Town (Manenberg,
   Gugulethu, Langa) and Boland areas.

Counter-Xenophobia strategies
     Two practical examples

         he recent xenophobia attacks on foreigners                rights education
         which happened countrywide clearly indicate           ❏   International and national statutes protecting and
         that most South Africans continue to blame                promoting human rights.
         asylum seekers, refugees and migrants for their       ❏   Migrants and refugee rights in SA
socio-economic difficulties. It is also unfortunate that       ❏   Understanding xenophobia
young people were at the forefront of these violent            ❏   Facilitation skills
and unprovoked attacks. Part of the reason for the
attacks is that the successes achieved by migrants                  Throughout the workshop participants are
and refugees have led to resentment and jealousy               encouraged and provided with some of the skills
amongst the locals, instead of them welcoming the              to go back to their communities to conduct similar
entrepreneurial activities of migrants that could              workshops. Over the years, peer educators have
benefit locals and migrants alike.                             conducted workshops in schools, churches, mosques
      In response to these and related problems                and in the communities in which they live. These
and dynamics in local communities, Africa Unite, a             workshops are conducted in the local languages such
community based organisation in Cape Town, has                 as Xhosa, Afrikaans, Swahili as well as French for
initiated two programmes to encourage mutual                   refugees and have substantially contributed to an
respect and tolerance, interaction and co-operation            increased understanding of human rights generally,
between citizens and foreigners.                               and the rights of asylum seekers, refugees, and
                                                               migrants specifically in the places where workshops
Human rights Peer education training                           have been held. We also know that some of our peer
For the past seven years, Africa Unite has been                educators have been at the forefront of defending and
recruiting youth (citizens and asylum seekers/                 preventing attacks on refugees and migrants during
refugees) from different communities to participate in         this troubled period.
a Human Rights Peer Education training programme.                   In 2007, 25 Human Rights Peer Educators were
The training covers the following topics:                      trained by Africa Unite and they have cumulatively
❏ General introduction to human rights and human               reached 1 600 people through the workshops that

they have conducted. Many of them also use local                This initiative started in 2005 and this year we
media like community radios and newspapers to raise        entered into a partnership with the South African
awareness about the plight of migrants and refugees.       micro-finance apex fund (SAMAF) an initiative of the
Currently, some of our peer educators are heavily          South African Department of Trade and Industry. Part
involved in negotiating with community leaders and         of the agreement between SAMAF and Sisonke is that
other youth organizations so that the refugees who         the latter must recruit at least 1 200 new members
have been displaced can go back to their homes.            who later benefit from micro-loans between the
    Our realization is that once the youth grasp human     amount of R2 000-R10 000. Recently the members
rights concepts, they begin to look for the realisation    of Sisonke held a strategic planning meeting and
of these concepts in their lives, communities, families,   their new vision is to be a leading, credible Financial
and places of work. If more youngsters understand          Institution in Africa, providing access to finance for
their rights and the rights of others we will have less    the previously disadvantaged.
youth in prisons and crime rates will go down.                  It has become apparent to us that one of the
                                                           factors that contribute to ongoing xenophobic
sisonke saving scheme                                      attitudes is the lack of interaction between locals
As the Human Rights Peer Educators reached out to          and refugees. Experience has shown for example
people they brought back reports of dire poverty and       that those citizens, who have had opportunities to
helplessness amongst the youth. In response, Africa        interact with migrants and refugees in a meaningful
Unite initiated Sisonke where local people can learn       way, are less likely to be xenophobic. These processes
entrepreneurship skills from the migrant and refugee       of interaction, however, will only succeed if they
communities.                                               are specifically constructed programmes to allow
    At Sisonke, locals and refugees save money             for dialogue and meaningful interaction. This means
together in order to inculcate a culture of savings, and   that such interaction cannot just be coincidental, but
the savings are then invested in small informal income     needs to be organized and facilitated. The above are
generating projects in which refugees and locals work      examples of activities undertaken by Africa Unite that
together and share the benefits.                           demonstrate the value of interaction and co-operation.

Perspectives is published by the HBS Southern Africa       edited by
Office in Cape Town.                                       Antonie Katharina Nord
                                                           Keren Ben-Zeev
The views expressed in this publication are those of the   Dirk Spilker
authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the
HBS.                                                       Layout & Design
                                                           Catherine Coetzer, c2designs
Hard copies of Perspectives are available from our Cape
Town office, and electronic versions at                    Heinrich Boell Stiftung Southern Africa                                           123 Hope Street, The Avalon Building I
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