This week has seen a new resurgence of attacks on foreign nationals in South Africa, with the violence being concentrated in Gauteng province, and especially in the Johannesburg CBD. 350Africa.org has offices in Braamfontein, in the Johannesburg CBD, and attacks have directly affected our team. It is heartbreaking to see people turn on each other, especially when this is inspired by something as random as to where the person was born on our continent. Our team responds below:
Ahmed Mokgopo, South African Campaigner: “Recent events in South Africa have made it all too easy to surrender to cynicism and feelings of hopelessness. However, our humanity and rage against this violence have to prevail. We need to take a stand against attacks on women, children and foreign nationals in South Africa. Our energies should be channelled towards building a more inclusive society, where all rights are respected and where narratives of justice and equity holds and protects the most vulnerable in our society.”
Lerato Ngakane, Africa Communications Coordinator: “With Afrophobia rearing its ugly head against other African nationals yet again in South Africa, compounded by yet another women being murdered at the hands of our brothers, it’s hard to contain my anger and sadness. No one wakes up in their home country wanting to leave – different circumstances including civil war, corruption and climate change drive them to build lives in new countries where they face difficult obstacles in order to survive and send money home to their loved ones. Nothing is ever guaranteed but I would like to think that as a country we can guarantee dignity, safety and the opportunity to engage in the economy of the country.
I have seen that “Swart Gevaar”, a term used in the apartheid system to sow fear of black people has bloomed into Afrophobia. Africa is for Africans. We must unite, it’s the only way to achieve the dream of an Africa we all deserve.”
Landry Ninteretse, African Team Leader: “As an activist and pan-Africanist who believes in the unity of one integrated and stronger Africa, I do not have words strong enough to condemn the xenophobic attacks that have targeted the homes and shops of foreigners and immigrants living in South Africa in recent days. Whenever such violent incidents occur, we must remember that no one leaves easily their motherland. Deep, serious and sometimes tragic reasons are driving millions of people on the road to exile. At a moment when we are facing the climate crisis, Africans should strive for unity, solidarity and solutions and ban any kind of divisions or violent attacks which delay our common march towards the real liberation from oppression, exploitation and extractivism.”
Alex Lenferna, South African Campaigner: “Many of those who have come to South Africa flee repressive governments or have lost their traditional livelihoods due to a changing climate. South Africa, as one of the biggest carbon polluters, has a responsibility to assist those displaced by climate change. Additionally, many of those same countries where immigrants are coming from also sheltered and provided incredible support and solidarity with South Africans during apartheid. If our shared humanity is not enough to evoke empathy for each other, at least we should recognise the historical debt we owe to our African neighbours.
With the climate crisis set to increase immigration flows throughout the world, deepening xenophobia cannot be our response to the growing crisis we will face. Climate justice must include immigrant justice. We cannot allow corrupt politicians and opportunists to sever our connection to other human beings and turn us against each other. We must reject those that seek to divide us along the lines such as nationality, religion, and race to keep us from creating a better world. If we are to weather the coming storms of climate change we must reclaim our shared humanity and learn to build our societies for the common good.”
The whole 350Africa.org team condemns these attacks, and hope that peace and unity prevail.