More attacks on foreigners 'likely'

Namhla Tshisela

Namhla Tshisela

A year has passed since the violence aimed at foreigners hit South Africa last May.

More than 60 people were killed and scores injured in the violence.

A relative calm has returned to the country and dissenting voices of those against the inhumane treatment of immigrants have become muted.

Civic organisations set 2009 aside as the year to put the welfare of refugees and foreign nationals back in the spotlight. But little has come of pledges for protests.

The May 12 anniversary of the protests might pass largely unnoticed. Few organisations have announced plans for commemorations, though concerned groups have warned that attacks could resurface as "threats of violence" prevail in some areas.

"Seemingly isolated attacks" have continued in Gauteng, said Duncan Breen of the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (Cormsa).

More attacks were likely because the causes of the violence have not been adequately resolved and the reintegration of foreigners into communities has not always been successful.

"We have not seen government programmes to address residents' concerns and building trust in the communities. The government and civil society have not succeeded in integrating and building societies," said Breen.

He said the government's reintegration strategy should have focused on long-term solutions by dealing with service delivery, corruption and access to resources.

"Opportunistic attacks" on foreigners were likely to occur in "vulnerable" areas during disturbances such as service delivery protests, he said.