Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Prejudice against immigrants cuts across class and race

 

 

The most common solution believed by South Africans to deal with xenophobia is to expel immigrants, research by the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) found.

In a survey that was conducted in 2018, researchers from the HSRC asked more than 3 000 people — who were representative of the country’s demographics — about potential solutions to xenophobic hate crime.

It found that 31% of the respondents felt that expelling immigrants would solve the problem of xenophobia. Others (14%) felt that stronger borders or a change in foreigners’ behaviour (12%) would be solutions.

“It would appear that the majority of South Africans hold very negative views about the impact of international migrants on South African society in which a significant share of the public believes that immigrants are a major driver of unemployment and crime,” explains Dr Steven Gordon from HSRC, who presented the research findings.

The survey found that half of the general population blamed the activities of foreigners for the violence against immigrants.

Many attributed the violence to foreigners’ alleged involvement in illegal drug trafficking, perceptions of stealing jobs from South Africans and purportedly nefarious practices of foreign shop and business owners.

Gordon further points out that anti-immigration views cut across the major social and economic classes within South African society.

“When we talk about anti-immigrant sentiment, it’s not a white or a black problem. It’s not a problem with poor people or rich people, young people and old people. It’s a problem of very different types of South Africans. You cannot blame single demographics for this issue.”

Gordon explains that one of the main drivers for the recent riots and anti-immigrant behaviours in Tshwane and Johannesburg, is believed to be the lack of law and order within those spaces which allowed for prejudices to be realised violently.

“The underlying cause of this violence is prejudice. But the type of behaviour and the way this prejudice manifests — the violence that we see — is a product of the spatial environment that people are living in.”

Xenophobia, the study shows, is part of a broader problem of prejudice in South African society.

“We tend to find that prejudice towards international migrants are linked to other types of prejudice. People who dislike foreigners also tend to have strong views about other races for example.”

Gordon says that people who hold the most positive views of international migrants are people who have the most experience with international migrants via acquaintances and friendships.

“Internationally, integration programmes have been very successful in integrating large numbers of international migrants, which is often culturally diverse, into society. This is an area where we [South Africa] fall short. They [the government] haven’t had robust, well-resourced and clear integration policies.”

Jacques Coetzee is the Adamela Data Fellow at the Mail & Guardian, a position funded by the Indigo Trust.

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Jacques Coetzee 1
Guest Author

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Life Esidimeni inquest postponed until August 30

The lawyer for the bereaved families argued that Dr Makgabo Manamela’s requests for postponements have a negative impact on the families of the deceased who seek closure

RECAP: Mbeki tells ANC that land without compensation goes against...

‘This would be a very serious disincentive to investment,’ says Thabo Mbeki in a document arguing that the ANC should not proceed with the Constitutional amendment of section 25

More top stories

ANC Integrity Committee recommends Zweli Mkhize step aside

ANC sources say the report by the committee will be tabled at the next national executive committee meeting

Rivals agree on new measures to end Cape Town taxi...

But key route remains closed and affected areas halt issuing of operating licences

Magashule claims his suspension of Ramaphosa was lawful

In his application for leave to appeal the high court judgment, Magashule argues that the court erred in holding that Ramaphosa’s suspension was not lawful without giving any explanation for that conclusion

Life Esidimeni inquest postponed until August 30

The lawyer for the bereaved families argued that Dr Makgabo Manamela’s requests for postponements have a negative impact on the families of the deceased who seek closure
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×