Xenophobia attacks in South Africa have not ended, Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) said on Friday.
“It has been five years since [2008, when] co-ordinated attacks exploded across the country and led to the deaths of 64 people and the displacement of hundreds of thousands more,” the head of LHR’s strategic litigation unit, David Cote, said in a statement.
“Although the violence itself only lasted for a few weeks, the lingering fear has never quite gone away. This is partly due to the fact that these attacks never really ended.”
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released figures showing that at least three incidents a week were reported in 2012, LHR said.
“Those not killed have been severely injured.”
He said there was no way of determining how much had been lost in business and property after attacks in Sasolburg, Orange Farm, Diepsloot, Booysens Park, and Sebokeng.
Last month, police reported unrest at Diepsloot, after Somali businessman Bishar Isaack was arrested for allegedly shooting dead two men, believed to be Zimbabweans, outside his shop when they allegedly tried to rob him.
Afterwards, residents stoned the shop and looted it and other businesses in the area.
Police arrested 45 people for public violence, housebreaking, and possession of unlicensed firearms.
In the same month, more than 90 people were arrested for protest-related crimes in Evaton, Orange Farm, and Sebokeng, south of Johannesburg.
Complaints of looting and vandalism of spaza shops belonging to foreigners were reported.
Violence also flared in Port Elizabeth, in Eastern Cape, where Somali shop owners were targeted.
Cote said the other reason xenophobia never went away was because nothing had really been done to end the attacks, or start the healing process.
“Even more disturbing is the government’s denial of the real threat of xenophobia. Hate crime legislation, which would prioritise such crimes, has been languishing in committees for years.” – Sapa