Economic effects of Xenophobia in South Africa

Buhle Masilela

Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Email: nydq@iup.edu


The purpose of this study is to examine the economic effects of xenophobia in the past two years. South Africa has struggled with racial discrimination since the end of apartheid in 1994 and lately xenophobic attacks have escalated. However, there has been turmoil over the impact of foreign influence on their economy. While majority of the population are living in oppressive poverty and with the highest number of refugees in the southern region of Africa with informal documentation. The boundary has created greater damages; high rate of absenteeism in the work force, reduction in foreign businesses, shortages in local markets creating room for black markets, reduction in tourism industry and in overall a decrease in Gross Domestic Product (GDP). To illustrate this I analyzed articles and journals, followed by interviewing students currently enrolled in Indiana University of Pennsylvania of South African national.

Key terms: xenophobia, economy, South Africa

Majavu, M. (June 2009). Xenophobia still smolders in Cape Town. Retrieved September 30, 2009,

                       from http://www.mg.co.za/article/2009-06-19-xenophobia-still-smoulders-in-cape-townships

“My worry is that my children are going to be slaves because they won’t have anything. These foreign people come to South Africa with nothing, but tomorrow he has cash, third day he owns a shop and fourth day he has a car. Where do these foreign people get this money?” Business people from 4 of cape towns impoverished communities Delft, Masiphumelele, Samoram,  Machel and Gugulethu having been thinking of ways to ride the foreigners out of the community. Threats of handwritten letters accusing Somali shopkeepers having deliberately kill off their business. Violence has fully become integrated into standard politics of some townships; police don’t recognize violence in Somali areas. 

Ivan, I.( May 2009). Refugees fight to stay in one of the South African last battered camps.  

                Retrieved September 30, 2009, from http://www.csmonitor.com/2009/0531/p06s07-woaf.html

Temporary camps were made to put the victims of xenophobia but of late some where gradually closed as victims either went back to the townships or native homes. Too dangerous to leave Blue Waters camp but the city council wants them out and has gone to court to seek an eviction order. Council officials have demolished a number of wooden shacks despite the recent poor winter weather, waving of South African visa requirements for Zimbabweans on 90day probation. President Zuma is sown in as president

Potter, W. (July 2008). Xenophobia in South Africa, Attacks spread Fear Foreign Nationals    and South African Minorities. Retrieved September 30, 2009 from,                                       


Current Unemployment Rate and escalating prices of essential Items and food stuffs due to the ever-increasing oil price has found South African nation harboring grudges against immigrants as their presence is a threat to the present and future employment opportunities and quality of life. Viligate actions being taken by lower income, unemployed and poverty stricken South African against foreigners settling within their communities. Many who have settled have resorted to entrepreneurial skills to survive. Military has been deployed by the government to assist police services. Reasons for the vacation of refugees from the Cape Town refugee centre:-Refugees have tried to gain access to the building, high crime rate around the centre. Cape high court has ruled home affairs department has to vacate the premises by September 30 due the harm the centre is causing to nearby business in the area. 

 ‘In South Africa my sister worked in one of the xenophobic camps in Johannesburg. She once spoke to a Mozambique an man who was mobbed by a group of man carrying knob carriers, knives, base ball bats to chase him out of the community. Some people were burned in their homes alive, since most of their houses were made of plastics and cardboard which we call ‘imikhukhu’ they burn easily’ (Respondent B)

 ‘The economy was affected when most of these “foreigners” were business men and women. After the foreigners were evicted from their homes, the S.A government opened “refuge” camps for them and had to provide them with food, water and any other necessities. The funds to provide basic necessities came from the government and donations from large companies e.g. MTN (Communication Company)’ (Respondent A)



Selected References

Haynie,(2008). Authorities move to shelter displaced foreigners. Retrieved October 14, 2009 

                 from http://www.mg.co.za/article/2008-06-01-authorities-move-to-shelter-displaced-foreigners  

Mandisi, M.(2008). Xenophobia still smolders in Cape Town. Retrieved from October 03, 2009                             

                  from http://www.mg.co.za/article/2009-06-19-xenophobia-still-smoulders-in-cape-townships

Wendell,(2008). Township attacks chill SA tourism industry, Retrieved October 14, 2009 from                              



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