SA Dismisses Xenophobia Fears

“So far what we are dealing with are rumours people have wittingly or unwittingly spread that is fuelling a hysteria of a possible outbreak,” Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa told a news conference.

Migrants from African states and nongovernmental groups said foreigners have been leaving due to renewed threats of xenophobic violence in the country where attacks in 2008 left 62 migrants dead and around 100,000 homeless.

There has been an outpouring of support in South Africa for other teams from the continent but migrants fear feelings of African unity will end when the Cup finishes.

“There have not been any reports that people are leaving because of fears of xenophobic violence,” deputy home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba said.

Assaults have the potential to dampen investor sentiment and embarrass President Jacob Zuma’s government, which has pledged to reduce violence in a country whose reputation as Africa’s economic engine has been undercut by its high crime rate.

South Africa’s liberal immigration and refugee policies have made it a haven for Africans looking for work in the country’s mines, farms and homes, where they battle for jobs in the country with 25 percent unemployment.

The number of migrants are estimated to be about five million, almost equal to the white population in a total population of about 49 million.

 Sixteen years after white minority rule ended, millions of poor blacks are still living in desperate poverty and the government conceded that inadequate living conditions provoked them to turn on their African neighbours.

“There are socio-economic challenges that we cannot ignore,” Mthethwa said.

He said investigations have found another source of tension coming from shops run by migrants that appear to undercut local merchants on the prices of goods by avoiding local taxes and banking fees. Reuters