A new wave of xenophobia has hit South Africa, where “the immigrant hunt” has thrown the country into chaos, causing at least six deaths so far, including a 14-year-old youth. In the city of Durban, over two thousand immigrants have sought refuge in police stations to escape the axe-attacks from some groups of residents, accusing them of stealing their jobs. A tense atmosphere and fear has increased the tension in the port city, even though thousands of people have gone to the streets to protest against xenophobia. An appeal to end the violence was launched by the President, Jacob Zuma, who has strongly condemned the wave of xenophobic attacks.
Even in the commercial capital of South Africa, Johannesburg, in the night were recorded attacks and violence. Some stores–run by immigrants- in the Jeppestown area, were devastated. In addition, police intervened to quell a strong protest against foreigners, and had to shoot rubber pellets and tear gas against 200 protesters who had unleashed stone-throwing against the passing cars.
The xenophobic violence broke out two weeks ago and local poeple have been under target-especially young blacks born after the end of apartheid-whose shops and homes are owned by foreigners of African origin, believed to be responsible for unemployment among the youth which has reached a peak of 50%. It is not the first time that South Africa has faced similar episodes. In January, the death of a teenager killed by a foreign seller, had intigated Soweto, sparking off a wave of protests. In 2008 the victims of xenophobic violence in Johannesburg were 62.
In 2014 the South African economic growth was equal to 1.5% and the unemployment rate now hovers around 25%, exceeding 50% among young people. The violence against immigrants in South Africa is common, with unemployed black South Africans who accuse African foreigners of stealing their work. Yesterday, the African national Congress (Anc), the ruling party, condemned the new outbreak of xenophobia, while President Jacob Zuma acknowledged the slowness with which government addresses some of the issues that have led to so much violence.