Policemen stand guard around the worker's hostel in Jeppestown neighbourhood of Johannesburg, South Africa, on Feb. 27, 2017. Xenophobic attacks have reared ugly heads in South Africa, leaving a trail of destruction of foreigners' shops and business. (Xinhua/Zhai Jianlan)
JOHANNESBURG, Feb. 27 (Xinhua) -- Xenophobic attacks have reared ugly heads in South Africa, leaving a trail of destruction of foreigners' shops and business.
As of last week, 20 shops and businesses belonging to non-South Africans were burnt to ashes after the outbreak of the violence. These sporadic violent attacks have led to foreigners living in fear. Meanwhile, foreigners are putting the blame on mayor of Johannesburg Herman Mashaba's doorstep.
"Whether you are South African or someone from outside, please respect our laws when you are in our city. Our law enforcement agencies deal with cases on a daily basis of students being robbed and when they find (the people), they find them with no papers whatsoever," Mashaba allegedly said.
That speech was a spark ignition to the flares that started attacks on foreigners. Sharon Ekambaram, head of refugee and migrant rights at Lawyers for Human Rights, which forms part of the coalition accused Mashaba of being unreasonable and irresponsible.
"It is really irresponsible of politicians to incite this kind of violence and we lay the responsibility for violence at his door," she told Xinhua.
"Even up to now there is a lot of fear among African immigrants, given that on the streets there are continuous messages flowing, indicating that xenophobia is still something alive," she added.
Meanwhile, police have arrested more than 130 people after using stun grenades, rubber bullets, tear gas and the water cannon to disperse some violent South Africans.
Crispen Chinguno, a sociology lecturer at the University of Witswaterand said," The underlying socioeconomic problems in the country, trigger for increased competition for employment, basic social services, and business opportunities within and between various communities."
He noted that South Africa is failing to secure a proper job. "It is not surprising that scores of youths were able to conduct violent campaigns in informal settlements. Unemployment was, therefore, a direct contributing cause to the violence."
Among some of the issues that cause South African to be violent was the government's failure to meet service delivery provision, which is a far cry to meet expectations of a better life for all.
"A policy failure is again at the heart of the problem as the state took it upon itself to provide services and jobs and thereby tied households to its ability to deliver," Chinguno added.
Stanford Mahati, a lecturer in African Centre for Migration and society at Witwatersrand, said the South African government has to fix its education system.
"The education system is an example of policy failures. In this case, poor education compounded the inappropriate labor market policy which in turn compounded the unemployment problem."
South Africa is currently facing a slow economic growth. International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects the country's gross domestic product (GDP) growth to remain flat at 0.1 percent this year, noting that the economy will only experience a modest recovery in 2017.
This is not the first time that xenophobic attacks happened in South Africa. Foreigners are still reminded of the flares of violence that happened in 2015. The violence attacks on non-South African was caused by Chief Goodwill Zwelithini, who reportedly said: "We urge all foreigners to pack their bags and leave."
The violence spread its wings to other parts of the province and to Johannesburg. Businesses were looted, homes wrecked, and thousands of foreigners forced to flee and seek refuge in makeshift camps. Most of those affected were from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.