In light of the recent Xenophobic violent attacks on foreigners have I gave much thought to the reasons that will drive one person to attack and hurt another. All for the simple reason that he or she is not born in the same country. It puzzles me that an entrepreneur opens up a grocery store close to where his or her clients live, delivers a vital service to the community, the very same people that enjoys having his shop there turn on him, chases him out and take what they want from his shop because he is not like they are. He is seen as different and not from around here and they are unhappy about having him in their community. Can it be that they are being misled by someone with ulterior motives? Or perhaps someone that has a hidden agenda of creating chaos and an unruly atmosphere of instability in our communities?

Or could it be that the Zulu monarch’s words were misunderstood? Or was it interpreted as a call for war when he actually meant that all races should fight a common enemy together? Be that as it may, many foreigners fearfully packed up their livelihoods and grabbed their measly possessions and fled to the safety of an encampment. To be herded like cattle and fed and cared for by NGO’s and religious organisations that are already strained under the pressure of not receiving adequate funding and experience donor fatigue. There they have to be processed by officials from the Department of Home Affairs and deported back to a home across the borders. Already thousands have returned to their homelands to escape the abuse and violence that the township folk dished up for them.

People that once fled to their neighbouring country, South Africa, in the hope of making it here are now disappointed and left destitute. They were coming to experience the “Better life for all” that was promised when we, South Africa, were the darling of the world, when our beloved tata Madiba was still dancing and we were all happily looking forward to our future together. Together as one, “Simunye we are one” was the jingle on TV, and we merrily sang along with it back then. Those were happy times. But those days are gone, things have changed and we as a people collectively have failed in carrying out the vision of the Mandela era. The dream that we could all share in the fruit of the country has turned into a nightmare. The promise that there shall be houses, security and comfort is not forthcoming. We are now faced with hardships in many of our homes; broken families are struggling to survive. Poverty and unemployment is rife in our communities and very few of us are making it in this difficult time.

This can be seen as the very reasons why South African people are so unhappy with the situation and turning on the vulnerable strangers among us. They have nowhere to run. They come from war torn countries and have faced many difficulties in their home countries. There is an exponential growth in the amount of foreigners that stream into our country in search of better opportunities. Some of them are entrepreneurs that create employment. They also do the low end jobs that many South Africans do not want to do such as guarding cars, providing security at malls and shopping centres, becoming gardeners and domestic workers. Yes, there too are criminals among them and it’s often reported in the news, but it is not the majority of foreigners that are guilty of this. This Xenophobic violence should stop, a strong message of reconciliation should be sent out and we should carefully read the first sentence of the preamble of our constitution…We, the people of South Africa, recognise the injustices of our past; Honour those who suffered for justice and freedom in our land; Respect those who have worked to build and develop our country; and Believe that South Africa belongs to all who live in it, united in our diversity.

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