Xenophobia in South Africa has been a long-standing issue. Despite the country’s democracy, immigration has been politicized within the context of the country’s growing poverty, inequality and unemployment.
All too often, foreign nationals, largely working in the informal sector or in small business holdings of their own, have been attacked on grounds that they are to blame for the country’s economic downturn, notably the spiraling unemployment, drugs and filthy streets.
These sentiments are often whipped up by unscrupulous and incompetent post-apartheid black politicians who prefer to shift the blame of the degrading economy in the country to innocent foreigners. This has often amounted to deadly attacks on these foreign nationals.
The latest in line in this sad story is the new spate of xenophobic violence against foreign truck drivers. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has the story. HRW states that
The South African government should take urgent measures to protect foreign national truck drivers from violence, intimidation, and harassment in the country’s cycle of xenophobic violence. More than 200 people – mostly foreign truck drivers – have been killed in South Africa since March 2018, based on research by the Road Freight Association, which represents road freight service providers.
Groups of people claiming to be South African truck drivers have thrown gasoline bombs at trucks and shot at, stoned, stabbed, and harassed foreign truck drivers to force them out of the trucking industry. Many foreign truck drivers have lost their jobs, despite having valid work permits, or have been unable to return to work due to injuries or damage to their trucks. Some of the attackers claimed affiliation to the All Truck Drivers Foundation (ATDF), an association of local truck drivers.
“South African authorities should urgently intervene to stop the unlawful, unprovoked, and violent attacks and harassment of foreign truck drivers and bring the perpetrators to justice,” said Dewa Mavhinga, southern Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Any problems in the trucking industry, including undocumented drivers, are for the relevant authorities to address, and there is no defense to groups committing such violent, horrific crimes.”
See full story here.