South Africa, often known as the Rainbow Nation because of the country’s multicultural diversity, is going through an outbreak of xenophobic killing. Currently, 300 suspects have been arrested for anti-immigrant violence, leaving six dead, according to Al Jazeera and other agencies.
Thousands of refugees from African states like Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe have sought to find temporary shelters away from mobs, while many others have fled to police stations in major cities.
“At least 112 people have been arrested throughout the KwaZulu-Natal province for various offenses related to the violence,” said Faith Karma and Diana Magnay of CNN.
Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique have postponed relations with South Africa.
According to The Guardian, nearly 400 Malawians arrived overnight in the city of Blantyre where government ministers and officials met them.
In addition, soldiers and police have been sent to various troubled areas in South Africa, including Johannesburg and Durban to protect immigrants.
“I think it’s a good thing that the soldiers have been deployed throughout South Africa protecting immigrants, because soldiers carry more importance in their job,” said sophomore Ayellor Karbah. “(People) may be intimidated and want to stop with the xenophobic violence.”
There are around 2 million foreign nationals who reside in South Africa, which equals 4 percent of South Africa’s population. Most of these individuals are Africans and Asians who came to South Africa after apartheid.
These are the worst xenophobic attacks in South Africa since 2008, which left 62 people dead.
“There is a long way for South Africa to grow,” said Professor of Political Science George Guo. “You have to have a strong government that’s less corrupted. In addition, the government needs to provide healthcare, improve living conditions, re-inforce education and provide opportunity for people to work.”
Ethnic conflict has also played into the recent violence.
“Foreigners must pack their bags and go home,” said reigning Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu publicly, shortly before the violence broke out,” according to The Guardian.
“Ethnic leaders such as King kaBhekuzulu have a strong influence on the people, which may have been the trigger to cause violence,” said Guo.
The violence has caused a lot of tension between African states. Most recently, Nigeria recalled its ambassador to South Africa.
“My thoughts on ethnic cleansing of minorities is (that it is) not showing the good solidarity that Africans have,” said Esther Idassi, a Tanzanian and founder of Elimu Empowerment Services to The Guilfordian. “If they’re directing their anger towards the apartheid that happened from 1948 to 1994, it should be them reacting to the people who put them in that situation and not harming immigrants.”