XENOPHOBIA was "not the motivation" for last year's violence in several informal settlements and townships.
According to a research report by the University of Johannesburg, politicians exaggerated the xenophobia issue and deliberately misinterpreted it "to divert attention from service delivery issues in poor communities".
The academics, led by Peter Alexander, said foreign shop owners said though their shops were looted, they did not feel they had been targeted for being outsiders.
Sanco was also fingered for violence in Diepsloot, northern Johannesburg. Researcher Kgopotso Khumalo found the civic organisation deliberately misinformed residents , telling them they would be moved to Brits, near Pretoria, in its aim "to unseat local councillors to have its own members elected".