Xenophobia in South Africa

Subject: Sociology
Type: Informative Essay
Pages: 5
Word count: 1358
Topics: Prejudice, Racism, Social Issues


Xenophobia is the fear or hatred directed towards the foreigners and strangers and grounded or embodied on the discriminatory attitudes and behaviors that in most cases culminate into violence, abuses and hatred (Crush & Ramachandran, 2017).  Most studies have shown that the development of xenophobia has been accused by a number of factors. Klotz (2016) elaborated that the major causes of discrimination feeling are attributed to the fear of loss of social status and identity, threats, changes in the economic success, ways of reassuring the national self and its boundaries in the time of national crisis, feelings of superiority and poor intercultural boundaries. From Solomon and Kosaka (2014) perspectives, they asserted that xenophobia in South Africa is driven by the sense that the non-citizens are considered to present relative threats to the identity of the recipient’s identity and their individual rights and has a close connection with the concept of nationalism.

Justification for selection of the article

(Vromans, L., Schweitzer, R. D., Knoetze, K., & Kagee, A. (2011). The experience of xenophobia in South Africa. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 81(1), 90-93.)

The article explains and explores the development of xenophobia in South Africa following the increasing number of immigrants into the South Africa.  Vromans and his colleagues (2011, p.90) in the article identified that the majority of the immigrants storming from Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia among other undocumented areas. The violence and anger emerged due to inadequate public services, the frequency of high number of the illegal immigration, increase competition for resources that include housing and health care, increase business competitions and employment opportunities as well as the perceived threats to relationships with local women, bribery and other crimes attributed to the foreign nationals.

The article further identified that individual that are inclined to the immigrant and anti-immigrants violence as the foundation to the understanding the factors that collectively leads to the development of xenophobia. The article reveals that there is a racial gradient in the responses with the black African adults that shows the past violent behaviors and leads to the understanding of the past, current and future violent behavior relative to whites, individual and colored adults.  Vromans and his colleagues (2011) noted that there is underlying association or correlation between deprivation and violence that is paving way for the development of xenophobia.

Background and main perspectives

The xenophobic violence erupted and targeted individuals that had migrated into south Africa and emerged first in Johannesburg in which 62 people died while 100,000 were displaced while the attack spread over the country compelling the individual to seek the refuge at the police stations.  The articles highlight the risk factors that lead to the development of xenophobia that does not just include increasing demand and shortage of the public services, competitions for business and resources, employment opportunities and perceived threats to the existing relationships.

The Human Science Research Council (HSRC) research data for the survey undertaken between October and December 2015 in which 3087 adults were interviewed showed that 80% of the South African had not engaged in the violent action and demonstrates that the anti-immigrants violence is broadly rejected by the public, 3.4% stated that they engaged in violent behaviors towards the immigrants (HSRC, 2017).  In totality, the 6% of the individuals engaged directly or indirectly in the acts of the violence against the foreigners that include impressions, prejudices, discrimination and physical violent action.

According to the research carried out with the South African Migrating for Work Research Consortium (MiWORC) examined the migration and impacts of the South African labor market found that 82% of the working population between 15 and 64 were non-migrants, 14% domestic migrants and 4% as international migrants over the past five years (Work, 2017).  The racial breakdown reveals that 79% of the international migrants were African, 17% whites and 3% were Indians or Asians. Therefore, disconnect between the perception and reality is a significant contributor to xenophobia.


  1. First, To what extent do the migrants and South Africans experience xenophobia in the South Africa and encountered the xenophobia risks factors have contributed the rising cases of violence?
  2. Secondly, to what extent will negative experience manifest themselves among the migrants and South African citizens?


The studies sampled participants to participate in answering the structure and unstructured interviews. The participants’ samples were to meet the threshold criteria in order to qualify as a participant in of the research study. For instance, the sample contained both migrants and the South African citizens. Secondly, the participants were to meet the participation threshold meaning that they must have experienced xenophobia and have a direct experience of the environment. The participants’ responded to structured and unstructured questions that were later used to gather the information.  Vromans and his colleagues (2011) applied interview method as an approach to gathering the information from the participants.

The questions targeted the personal experience of xenophobia either positively or negatively. The research study focuses on exploring the relationship between xenophobia situations and the participants’ experience. The xenophobia situation being the independent variable while participant’s experience as the dependent variable. The research utilized the qualitative analysis and quantitative statistical analysis in order to explore the relationship between the xenophobia conditions and personal experience.  Statistically, the research has utilized mean percentages to especially in determining the individuals that have engaged in xenophobia activities either directly or indirectly such as holding negative attitudes, discrimination, prejudices and the physical act of violence and attacks.


According to the findings, the consequences of violence include the destruction of businesses, loss of a sense of identity, place and belonging vandalism, increase displacements and theft among other crimes. Vromans and his colleagues (2011) suggested that the xenophobic violence took the form of a chronological list of experience of violence, frenzy, and disorientations. In particular, the participants felt abandoned by the South African. In particular, the immigrants were not provided by adequate food and accommodations, men perceived the government to work towards resettlement and local integrations. The finding also indicates that the participants expressed resentment that foreign nationals were neglected during the vulnerability situations and experienced a high level of victimizations resulting from xenophobia. More importantly, the participants revealed the capacity to transcend the situation faced through the sense of urgency.

Huge number of migrants experienced depression, numbness, fear, distress, embarrassments and humiliations and majority of them sorted to finding or seeking relief from the distressed situation through the divine intervention and extensively make reference to faith as the significant source of strength, one participant quoted, “I should be nothing today, but with hope and grace of God giving me life and strength” (Vromans et. al., 2011). Additionally, the participants experienced threats and relationship challenges, loss of a large amount of money, physical harm, experiencing the mundane activities that do not only include getting up earlier, leaving the safety sites but also pressure to continue with the individual daily activities.

Finally, the studies found that the xenophobic attacks are racially motivated while the attention is directed towards the significance of the sociopolitical context and the crucible in which the attitude and behaviors are cultivated. The majority of the youthful participants in the research face a series of unemployment, poverty, and lack of jobs. The article found that the xenophobia attacks come as result f the frustrations among the migrants and South African citizens. In essence, the participants have experienced the effects of xenophobia that confirms the research hypothesis and xenophobia has a close correlation with the negative experience among both the migrants and South African citizens. However, the government needs to pay attention to the service delivery, equitable allocation of opportunities and resources.


The article provided the insights and explanation of the experiences facing the migrants and how the migrants made meaning of the hostility that they experience in South Africa. The consequences for xenophobia include rejection, dehumanization, and violence, and distress, loss, yearning for home, abandonment, and vulnerabilities. Added, xenophobia caused a self-diminishing experience and participant expressed their concerns and practically alluded that there is a need for effective interventions that will focus on alleviating and mitigating the psychological sequence of xenophobic violations of human rights.

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  1. Crush, J., & Ramachandran, S. (2017). Migrant Entrepreneurship Collective Violence and Xenophobia in South Africa. Southern African Migration Programme.
  2. HSRC. (2017). Hsrc.ac.za. Retrieved 20 April 2017, from http://www.hsrc.ac.za/en/research-data/keywords?keyword=XENOPHOBIA
  3. Klotz, A. (2016). Borders and the Roots of Xenophobia in South Africa. South African Historical Journal, 68(2), 180-194.
  4. Solomon, H., & Kosaka, H. (2014). Xenophobia in South Africa: Reflections, narratives and recommendations. South African Peace and Security Studies, 2(2), 5-29.
  5. Vromans, L., Schweitzer, R. D., Knoetze, K., & Kagee, A. (2011). The experience of xenophobia in South Africa. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 81(1), 90-93.
  6. Work, W. (2017). MiWORC. Miworc.org.za. Retrieved 20 April 2017, from http://www.miworc.org.za/
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