Xenophobia of the countries remains a reality in South Africa as migrants tell of how they cannot trust the services they get from the police they often accuse of looking into their nationalities rather than helping them.
Rochilla Nair, coordinator at Global South Against Xenophobia, said “institutional xenophobia” is a familiar phrase for her organization.
We also refer to it as “state xenophobia”. Nair said, “Xenophobia is reflected in the actions of the government and the state.
Nair raised concerns about the government’s lack of treatment of migrants,”Civil society, and the public in relation to economic development, human rights violations, and recognition of the rights of refugees and asylum seekers in South Australia.”
If our economic and immigrant policies “do not translate into practical safety and well-being for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers from the continent, then the problem of xenophobia from the nations remains despite the constitutional and various other protocols to which South Africa is a signatory,” Nir said.
According to Dr. Venencia Nyambuya, migrants, particularly migrant women, are at risk of violence in the pursuit of making ends meet. “Women risk sexual harassment and violence every time they sell goods on the streets or at flea markets, go to work, or take public transportation, and have little recourse or protection from this violence. They said the police are indifferent to their allegations.” , and/or solicit bribes or sex in exchange for favors,” Nyambuya said.
Nyambuya writes for her dissertation on ethnographic portraits of migrant women challenging gender-based violence in Durban. She confirmed how the women she interviewed for her paper were afraid to go to the police because they would be judged by their nationality.
Immigrant women in South Australia face numerous challenges in accessing public services. They often faced difficulties accessing healthcare services, abuse by public health service providers, and everyday medical xenophobia. These issues are pervasive in clinics and hospitals, highlighting the challenges these women face in their daily lives,” Nimabuya said.
Her thesis title is Life Stories: Ethnographic Portraits of Migrant Women Challenging Gender-Based Violence in Durban, SA.
One of the women interviewed for her dissertation, Thoku, a 40-year-old Zimbabwean woman, arrived in Durban in search of greener pastures after Zimbabwe’s 2008 economic collapse.
Thuko lost her partner in xenophobic attacks in Johannesburg. For Thoku, being in Johannesburg brought traumatic experiences from the 2008 xenophobic attacks. Later I decided to move to Durban.
He believes that the police in Durban are more lenient compared to the Johannesburg police because they never demand proof of identity from foreigners who are largely present in the CBD, said Thoku. Thuku described how difficult it was to denounce abuse in South Africa because of one’s legal standing and language.
“I am not ready to be a foreigner because I am afraid it will create enemies for me in a xenophobic environment like the one in which I live and work. The police are not what we think they are, instead of protecting us they are helping this injustice to prevail because we are not welcome here.” Thoku said. .
National Police spokesperson Brigathlinda Mathey said the police personnel are well-trained, competent and disciplined and “work within the standards (scope) of the Constitution and the SAPS Code of Conduct which neither allow nor tolerate any form of discrimination against anyone in the country”.
“We nullify and refute any allegations made against SAPS that police officers are continuing xenophobic attacks against foreigners or illegal immigrants in the country. We make a serious appeal to community members and the media to report any form of xenophobia committed in the crime,” Mathi said.
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) said it had already received complaints about the abuse of the rights of refugees and migrants.
We have also received complaints about how the process violates rights. “Based on the complaints received of exploitation and abuse, the South African Human Rights Commission believes that the rights of vulnerable people are being violated by officials who do not consider the human rights of these people,” said Commissioner Ange Makwetla.
Maquitla said the problem of abuse can be dealt with by ensuring that officials understand the laws, “policies and tools that promote human rights. Those responsible must be held to high standards and if they are found to want this, they must be punished accordingly.”