/ 22 October 2008

Housing a factor in xenophobic attacks, says report

Housing policy was identified as an important trigger for the outbreak of xenophobic attacks, a report by the Human Science Research Council (HSRC) revealed on Wednesday.

The report, in response to the outbreak of violence in May, was based on a roundtable discussion involving 50 key stakeholders from government, civil society and affected communities.

”The housing policy needs to be revisited urgently. Housing is a complex issue and is one of the issues that sparked xenophobic violence in various areas around country,” said HSRC director Adrian Hadland at the launch of the report in Alexandra.

Some of the recommendations made by the council were to convene a national indaba on xenophobia, open channels of communication among residents through the empowering or establishment of local community forums, and to revise the migration policy.

”Immigrants should be regulated. They need to be introduced to customs, practice and sensitivities of the country. The local councillors need to be educated about migration and South Africa’s role globally,” said Hadland.

South Africa was in need of immigrants because they brought skills resources.

British High Commissioner Paul Boateng said xenophobia was a ”weeping wound in the body of society” and it required attention.

”The United Kingdom can learn a lot from South Africa’s experience … the dual purpose is for the issue to remain on the international agenda to ensure that there is no repeat to what happened,” said Boateng. — Sapa