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20 April 2015

Unite against xenophobia

Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)
Press Release

The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) strongly condemns the disturbing spate of violent attacks against those perceived to be ‘foreigners’ or illegal immigrants in South Africa. These attacks are the latest manifestation of troubling attitudes that continue to undermine our Constitution and our hard-won democracy.

We welcome the interventions by President Zuma, Minister Gigaba (DHA) and Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane (DIRCO), and other senior leaders from all sectors of our society who were outraged by the violence perpetrated against our fellow non-South African Africans. We call on leadership in all walks of life to address as a priority the challenges associated with xenophobic violence. For too long, South Africans in leadership positions have either ignored the evolving crisis or have spoken carelessly, stoking the fires of jealousy, resentment and hatred. 

We call on all South Africans to take responsibility for embracing the tolerance and generosity that defines our democratic order, and to work together to find solutions to the ongoing destruction of lives and livelihoods, which shames us and our country domestically and internationally. Madiba’s dream of South Africa being a “beacon of hope to the world” will surely die if we stand back and do nothing.

We urge all South Africans to live out the values of our Constitution. Human dignity, tolerance of diversity and inclusive development for all in South Africa can never be achieved if we continue to repeat the atrocities of our divided past. The equality clause in section 9 of the Bill of Rights calls upon the state and citizens not to unfairly discriminate against others, including on the basis of origin. As we celebrate the 60th year since the adoption of the Freedom Charter we must remember that “South Africa belongs to all who live in it”. Our courts have also reminded us that the Bill of Rights applies to “everyone” who lives in this land. Our foreign policy calls upon us to centralise Africa and to encourage Ubuntu, interdependence and humaneness in our relations with our brothers and sisters across the globe and on the continent. South Africa is also a signatory to international human rights Conventions that recognise the vulnerability and the rights of immigrants, asylum seekers and refugees.

Xenophobia goes against the ethos of our constitutional democracy and reflects our forgetfulness of the support our people received during the darkest days of the struggle against oppression. These acts of hatred ignore the support given by the people of the African continent to this struggle. These hate crimes also ignore the reality that many of our people currently live and work in neighbouring countries.    

We call on the South African Police Service to apply all the laws of our country fairly and without prejudice. Now is the time to act with compassion and to restore calm. The restoration of peace and order is necessary to enable inclusive discussions with all communities affected by these acts of violence.

We call all peace-loving South Africans to stand up and be counted among those who do no support xenophobia by making their support known.

Now is the time to be the caring society that we believed we could be when we broke our ties with a hate-filled past.


Issued by the HSRC

For more information contact: Mr Julian Jacobs on 021-466 7948 / 082 454 4902

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