Xenophobic violence in democratic South Africa

Xenophobic violence in democratic South Africa timeline

1994 to 1995

In December 1994 and January 1995, armed youth gangs in Alexandra Township outside of Johannesburg, Gauteng Province, destroyed the homes and property of suspected undocumented migrants and marched the individuals down to the local police station where they demanded that the foreigners be forcibly and immediately removed.

1998

In September 1998, two Senegalese and a Mozambican were thrown from a moving train in Johannesburg by a group of individuals returning from a rally organised by a group blaming foreigners for the levels of unemployment, crime, and even the spread of AIDS.

2000

In August 2000, seven xenophobic killings were reported in the Cape Flats district of Cape Town. Seven foreigners from different African countries were killed on the Cape Flats. Amongst those who were attacked by local South Africans were two Nigerians, one Kenyan, and two Angolans.

2008

On 8 January 2008, two Somali shop owners were murdered in the Eastern Cape towns of Jeffreys Bay and East London. In March 2008, seven people were killed including Zimbabweans, Pakistanis and a Somali after their shops and shacks were set alight in Atteridgeville near Pretoria.

On May 11 2008, an outburst of xenophobic violence in the Johannesburg township of Alexandra triggered more xenophobic violence in other townships. Firstly, it only spread in the Gauteng Province. After two weeks, the violence jumped to other urban areas across the country, mainly Durban, Cape Town and Limpopo Province.

2009

From 14 to 17 November 2009, 3000 Zimbabwean citizens living in the rural community of De Doorns, an informal settlement near Breede Valley Municipality, in the Western Cape was displaced as a result of xenophobic violence. It selectively targeted Zimbabweans despite the presence of other foreign nationals (e.g. Lesotho nationals) living and working in the same area.

2013

On 27 February 2013, eight South African police officers tied the 27 years old Mozambican man, Mido Macia, to the back of a police van and dragged him down the road. Subsequently, the man died in a police cell from head injuries. The incident happened in Daveyton, East of Johannesburg, South Africa.  

On 26 May 2013, two Zimbabwean men were killed by South Africans mob in xenophobic violence in Diepsloot, South Africa.

2015

In January 2015, Somali shop owner shot and killed a 14-year-old boy, Siphiwe Mahori, during an alleged robbery in Soweto Township. The boy was shot in the neck and died within 15 minutes. Lebogang Ncamla, 23, was another victim when he was shot three times in the arm. The incident triggered the waves of attacks and looting of foreign owned shops.

On 5 March 2015, xenophobic attacks occurred in Limpopo Province. Foreigners on the outskirts of Polokwane left their shops after protesting villagers threatened to burn them alive and then looted them. Violence erupted in the Ga-Sekgopo area after a foreign shop owner was found in possession of a mobile phone belonging to a local man who was killed.

On 8 April 2015, a spate of xenophobic violence occurred after Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini made comments that foreigners should go back to their home countries because they are changing the nature of South African society with their goods and enjoying wealth that should have been for local people.  

On 12 April 2015, Attacks on foreign nationals continued in KwaZulu-Natal when shops in Umlazi and KwaMashu, outside Durban, were torched. In V Section, a shop owned by a foreign national was set on fire by a mob of suspects. Five people have been killed.

On 14 April 2015, Looting of foreign shops spread to Verulam, north of Durban following a day of clashes between locals, foreigners, and police in the city centre, KwaZulu-Natal. About 300 local people looted foreign-owned shops, and only two people have been arrested.  A 14-year-old boy became the latest fatality. He was shot dead during looting in KwaNdlanzi, allegedly by two security guards.  

Last updated : 15-Aug-2017

This article was produced for South African History Online on 17-Apr-2015