Tens of thousands flee xenophobia in South Africa

From South Africa’s Labour Community Radio Project: Tens of thousands of people have fled xenophobic violence around South Africa since mobs began attacking foreigners and burning and looting their homes and businesses in May. At least 60 have been killed.

Yet South Africa is a country that has been built on migrant labour from other African countries. For decades, thousands of workers came from all over Southern Africa to work in the mines alongside others who migrated from other parts of the country. At that time, apartheid laws required that workers leave their families behind to work; they were refused the right to settle permanently near the industry they built. Black people from all over the region sometimes fought amongst themselves, but ultimately stood shoulder to shoulder to resist their exploitation and oppression.

After democratic elections in 1994, South Africa scrapped the laws that blocked every person’s right to live where they please in this country. And while the borders were not simply thrown open to all, the new constitution guaranteed fair and equal treatment to all who live in this country – regardless of their national origin.

In this programme we look at the shameful violence that has been directed against migrants from other parts of Africa in the past month.