South Africa ‘on the brink of an explosion of xenophobic violence’, UN experts warn |

In a statement released Friday, rights experts cited “Operation Dudula” as an example of hate speech. Originally a social media campaign, Operation Dudula has become an umbrella for mobilizing violent protests, vigilance violence, arson of immigrant-owned homes and businesses, and even the murder of foreign nationals.

Experts, known as the Special Rapporteur, warn that the xenophobic campaign is deepening and has become a central election strategy for several political parties in the country.

They said: “Anti-migrant discourse from senior government officials has fanned the flames of violence, and government agencies have been unable to stop the violence from continuing or hold the perpetrators accountable.

‘Too black to be South African’

The group continued: “Without urgent action from the South African government to curb the influx of migrants and refugees, as well as the widespread and threatening violence against these groups, we are deeply concerned. fear that the country is on the verge of an outbreak of violence.

Experts note that xenophobia, particularly against migrants and refugees in Africa and Southeast Asia, has been a feature of South African politics for many years.

For example, in 2008, xenophobic violence resulted in the deaths of more than 60 people and contributed to the displacement of at least 100,000 people.

Xenophobia is often explicitly racist, targeting low-income Black migrants and refugees, and in some cases, South African nationals accused of being “too Black to become a South African”.

In a highly publicized case in April 2022, a 43-year-old Zimbabwean man and father of four children was killed in Diepsloot by a group of people who went door-to-door demanding visas.

The attackers chased the victim out of the place where he was seeking refuge, beat him and set him on fire. Violence continues unabated. It is alleged that the burning of Yeoville Market in Johannesburg on June 20 of this year, was carried out by people targeting immigrant shopkeepers.

A family overlooks Durban in South Africa from their apartment building.  They ran away from home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo due to conflict more than fifteen years ago.  (December 2021)

© UNICEF / Sobekwa

A family overlooks Durban in South Africa from their apartment building. They ran away from home in the Democratic Republic of the Congo due to conflict more than fifteen years ago. (December 2021)

‘Discrimination is institutionalized’

UN experts found that discrimination against foreign nationals in South Africa was institutionalized both in government policy and in South African society at large.

They say this has led to a violation of the right to life and physical integrity as well as the right to an adequate standard of living and the highest attainable standard of health, as well as an increased risk of incarceration, tons and arbitrary renovation.

Experts also expressed concern over reports that widespread corruption in South Africa’s refugee and migration systems has exacerbated these dangerous problems.

“The cost to dignity and life, especially given the xenophobic violence of the past 30 years, remains pervasive and deeply troubling,” the experts said.

They said: “We are deeply concerned that South Africa is not meeting its active obligations to protect and promote human rights while preventing racism and xenophobia.

“At the same time, perpetrators enjoy widespread retribution for xenophobia and violence, leading to a lack of accountability for serious human rights abuses and the proliferation of political racist and xenophobic political platform.”

Experts urge public and private organizations to honor their commitments to human rights and racial justice, and to take a firm stance against continuing racist and xenophobic violence performed in South Africa.

UN experts have been in official contact with the Government of South Africa to address these allegations and clarify its obligations under international law.

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