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Xenophobic Violence Escalates in South Africa

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In South Africa today attacks against immigrants from other African nations have left at least 42 dead and forced tens of thousands from their homes. There are an estimated 5 million immigrants in South Africa who are often willing to work for low wages, inciting resentment and violence from the indigenous black population that has been faced with dismal standards of living for decades.

Two weeks ago, angry mobs attacked the slums of Johannesburg, literally burning people alive, according to reports published in the Associated Press. Stabbings and beating became the norm, and resentment is increasing toward the government of President Thabo Mbeki.

Jerome Deal of the Associated Press reports that babies as well as bags are being passed through bus windows as people flee to neighboring nations in panic.

OEN News received photos and written reports this morning that confirm that the violence is escalating beyond what we are seeing in national media. The attached photos speak volumes.

In addition, Reuters AlertNet has a background briefing, newsfeed, photos and video on the xenophobic violence. This is certainly a situation where OEN can work closely with the Reuters organization and publish feeds to their newslinks. In addition, the Reuters photos establish the context and veracity of the photos we received.

In response to a direct question about the situation in Johannesburg, a white friend writes from South Africa this morning and confirms what we are hearing regarding the violence against immigrants:

“The situation in the country is disturbing, affecting the lower income groups, particularly in the townships - at this point has mainly been around Johannesburg. It is being directed at the Mozambique, Zimbabwean, Nigerian, and Somalian immigrants.

“It is really a social crisis, of people trying to survive. The pressure of fuel prices and interest rates going up, Eskom battling to supply adequate levels for electricity is resulting in increasing costs of living (food etc.) and companies are also facing tough times of making ends meet. So it complicates the situation further.”

This writer can confirm the dismal poverty facing residents of the South African Townships, having spent some time with an HIV mission there last August.

OEN is gratified that we received the accompanying photos with a note that reads:

“You are the only person I trust can get this out and find something to do with this. As we speak, terror has broken out on foreigners living in South Africa especially Johannesburg hard hit....”


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Georgianne Nienaber is an investigative environmental and political writer. She lives in rural northern Minnesota and South Florida. Her articles have appeared in The Society of Professional Journalists' Online Quill Magazine, the Huffington (more...)

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