What’s Really Behind South Africa’s Xenophobia? Malema & Others Weigh In

Economic Freedom Fighter Julius Malema’s words on xenophobic attacks and South African men has touched a nerve around the country… and with expats around the world, including South African comedian Trevor Noah.

Noah posted the video with a tweet saying: “I don’t always agree with Julius Malema but this statement on Xenophobic attacks in SA is perfect.”

WATCH Julius Malema: It’s Not Foreigners. It is Us, South African Men


Malema pointed out that once “you are done with Nigerians, Mozambicans, Zimbabweans, Zambians, you are going to go for Shangaans from Giyani. I have to stop you now before you come for me. We are going to be victims.

“They’re going to say, ‘The reason we don’t have jobs here is because of these Zulus. They must go back to Natal. Xhosas must go back to Eastern Cape, Shangaans must go back to Limpopo.’ Because there will be no foreigners left to fight.”

Malema said that it’s a myth that foreigners are stealing jobs, and accused those involved with attacks as justifying crime with “nice names” like xenophobia and Afrophobia. But “IT’S CRIME, and has to be dealt with as such!”

He said: “I’m not going to join any one who beats up an African person – I’m not part of that mess. I will never even support anyone who wants to stone a White person. It doesn’t matter what the amount of disagreement we have with them. To come with a stone like this (he gestured a large rock) and put on a head of a person is unjustifiable. Not even a white person who has committed genocide – not even (former President) De Klerk – deserves to be stoned with such a brick. You must subject him to a normal process.

“Let the law take its own course.”

He said: “It is wrong South Africans what you are doing. It’s bad, uncalled for, barbaric, madness.

“It is not a Nigerian, it is not a Zimbabwean, that killed Nene. It is us. South African men.”

On Carte Blanche this week, the programme investigated what triggered the latest spate of violence, and discovered that many of the xenophobic attacks included looting on South African-owned shops. (Watch the full episode here if you’re overseas.)

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: Hundreds of Nigerians have opted for free evacuation from South Africa back home to Nigeria.

WATCH SA’s ‘Xenophobic’ Looting on Carte Blanche

Social media presents false picture of xenophobic attacks

Noah also took to Twitter yesterday to retweet a video showing how much disinformation there has been around the xenophobic attacks, with videos purporting to show the current burning and violence actually being sourced from video footage taken in India and in South Africa many years ago. These false videos serve to further incite violence.

“Social Media is the best and worst thing ever invented. If we don’t figure out how to curb fake information, we’re doomed,” said Noah. Watch the video below.

However, while some videos are false, many (such as those in the Carte Blanche video above) are sadly a true depiction of South Africa this week.

Over 800 foreign nationals (of whom 227 are children) have been displaced in Ekurhuleni after unrest and violence targeted at them. They are currently being houses on two sites, where the City is providing humanitarian and related assistance.

Other organisations that are continuing to see to the needs of the displaced people include Doctors without Borders, the Red Cross, local NGOs and churches… providing food, medical services, blankets, mattresses, toys for the children and sanitary material.

The government said this week that plans to reintegrate the affected foreign nationals are already in place, as well as plans to document those who are undocumented. Those who wish to be repatriated to their countries of origin will be repatriated with the assistance of the relevant government departments.

How well did the rest of Africa take care of South Africa during apartheid?

Meanwhile there are those who say that it cannot be ignored that some of the current strife has been triggered by South Africans upset with alleged foreign-national drug lords. Advocate Khumalo claimed on the SABC last night that it is also untrue to say that this is a betrayal by South Africans who were hosted by other African countries during apartheid. He claims not all African countries welcomed the South Africans as warmly as they now say.

He said that many African countries are “solving their socio-economic problems at our expense. They are dumping their people…” Watch below:

Socio-economic issues in Africa

Outgoing UCT Chancellor Graca Machel said this week that the reason there are four million people from other African countries in South Africa is because most of those countries don’t have democracies and economies that works; and that some of these people are persecuted in their own countries.

South Africa’s International Relations and Cooperation Minister Dr Naledi Pandor said in a press briefing yesterday that ambassadors and their respective countries are committed to working with South Africa to address the “very complex fact of socio-economic issues”.

These issues, she said, relate to migration, immigration, economic opportunities and effective administration. Greater social cohesion is necessary to address these, said the Minister.

She said she met with ambassadors of foreign nationals living in South Africa to reassure them that the SA government is doing all it can to return calm to the country; and to discuss steps to prevent such occurrences from happening in the future.

“We felt it vital that we create a platform for ongoing collaboration between ourselves and the embassies because they best know their nationals who are in South Africa. [They] can assist us in reaching out to them and in building what I call bridges that we must walk across in order to interact with each other as South Africans and nationals from other countries, particularly of Africa but broadly the world as well,” said the Minister.

On Nigeria sending a special envoy to South Africa in the wake of the attacks, Pandor spoke out against the fuelling of tensions.

The South African High Commission in Abuja and Consulate in Lagos temporarily closed their doors last Tuesday, following threats against the mission staff as well as the property of South Africa.

As Malema said: “Only a united Africa can resolve the problems that have troubled the continent for centuries.”

MORE Videos discussing Xenophobia in South Africa

Behind the violence: Foreign nationals left stranded

DISCUSSION: Behind the violence and looting