In the post-apartheid period, thousands of refugees, migrant workers and other
categories of foreign nationals have been attacked, killed, displaced or deprived
of their property in xenophobic attacks throughout South Africa. These recurrent
attacks violate a host of fundamental human rights of foreign nationals, including
the right to life, right to own property and the right to seek and enjoy safe
Making South Africa a case study on the management of xenophobia, this study
contextualises xenophobia as a deeply rooted and protracted socio-legal problem
and argues that only deep understanding and research-based pragmatic
interventions can alleviate the phenomenon.
Relying on conclusions from empirical surveys by experts and human rights
organisations, the thesis explains various underlying historic factors that
perpetuate xenophobia in the country. The thesis elucidates on these historic
factors and analyses other on-going legal and institutional shortcomings that
exacerbate xenophobia, thereby hampering social cohesion, the rule of law and
peaceful coexistence between nationals and foreigners in the country.
The thesis examines and critiques the domestic and international legal as well as
institutional framework that could be utilised to stem xenophobia. It finds that
the legal and extra-legal interventions that have so far been implemented in SA
have largely been ineffective in curbing the phenomenon. This is evidenced by
the current situation, where xenophobic attacks are continuing unabated. The
study further reviews some foreign jurisdictions where pragmatic interventions to curb hate crimes such as xenophobia and racism have succeeded, to draw
inspiration and examine certain lessons that SA could learn from their
management of the phenomena. The thesis argues that, to effectively and
decisively address xenophobia in SA, a multi-disciplinary approach which
encompasses legal and extra-legal measures is necessary. This study concludes
by proposing some short- and long-term pragmatic interventions for xenophobia
in SA, both legal and extra-legal.
Having been prepared from legal and multi-disciplinary perspectives, this thesis
aims to stimulate academic debate as well as inform future legal, policy and
institutional reforms related to management of xenophobia.