- lipo disco
- Johannesburg, South Africa
South Africa’s president said he was “deeply upset” by the abuse of foreign nationals working in the country. This is a particular problem in the town of Alexandra, which was at the center of xenophobic riots in 2008. Some migrants there have told the BBC that they are now living in fear.
“When they first came here, there were seven of them and they let us all lie down and took the machines, hair dryers and sprays, we had no choice but to let them have to take it because they had guns.”
The Mozambican looked at his hands as he described the numerous attacks for which he was the target simply because he was a foreigner.
David says those who attacked him were from South Africa, and they demand the same thing every time: that he leave the country.
“They tell us we have to close our business, but I do not know where to go,” he added.
The hut that David uses as a barber shop is less than two meters long, but it is clear that it represents David’s pride and happiness as pictures of his different hairstyles stand against the wall, his scissors and other tools neatly arranged on one side.
The money he makes by working in Alexandra, South Africa, supports his family in Mozambique. But he says he is willing to take any risk he faces for them.
“As long as my family eats, that’s all I care about,” adds David. “They can kill me at any time. I do not know what will happen. “
Recent clashes between residents of the South African town of Alexandra and foreign business owners have raised fears of further violence against migrants in the country. In that town, xenophobic violence began in 2008 and then spread.
The African Center for Migration and Society says that in 2021, almost three times as many foreigners nationwide were killed as a result of hate-motivated violence compared to the previous year.
One of the main drivers of such a conflict is poverty, with South Africans regularly accusing migrants of getting their jobs. One in three people in the labor force is currently unemployed, a figure that rises to almost 2 in 3 among people under 24 years of age.
The issue of work and access to work in the town was raised by a group called Alexandra Dodola Movement. The word dodola means “to expel” in the Zulu language.
This movement has closed shops and stalls that allegedly run illegal immigrants.
Foreigners like David say it was the Dodola movement that carried out the violent attacks against them.
As our team makes its way through town, we meet a group of dodola activists preparing to do what they call patrols where they ask to see people’s immigration documents.
Agnes Malague, spokesperson for the movement, asked how the group justifies law enforcement in its own hands.
She told me, “We will not allow those names you have given us (the rioters, the guards) to break the spirit of the community fighting for what is right.”
A Dodola spokesperson accuses the authorities of not applying or responding to immigration legislation when South Africans are attacked.
Dodola spokeswoman Agnes Malatji said: “If the government handles things the right way, there will be no need for such a move, we are also plagued. Serious interest.”
Alexandra is one of the poorest urban areas in the country, nestled in the shadow of the gleaming skyscrapers of Sandton, Africa’s richest square mile.
Its proximity to the wealth and opportunities it offers has long attracted newcomers from across the country and continent to Johannesburg.
But as the pressure on resources in this densely populated area increases, so does the potential for conflict between new arrivals and existing residents who are marginalized.
All of this helps a lot in the cycles of violence she explains by using what is known as “emotion theory,” says Dr. Lovono Siddiqui, a criminologist at the University of Pretoria.
“Each of us wants a decent life, and not every one of us has access to a decent life,” she explains.
“In Sandton you do not have to get up in the morning to empty the bucket you used as a toilet, you turn on your tap, all these resources are close, and this is what you do every day across the road in Alexandra see. . ”
“It’s like a mirror that magnifies your frustration. The inequality is right in your face. The thing you want is on the other side of the road and yet you can not get to it. Sometimes when you do not have answers no, the easiest thing is to attack someone else. ” .
John (19), who is not his real name, says he has also been subjected to several similar attacks since arriving in Johannesburg from Mozambique last year.
He and his friends have a roadside stall where they cook meat and porridge to sell to the villagers.
But he says South Africans who claim to be from the Dodola movement have assaulted them several times and stolen their shares.
John adds, “When Dodola arrives, they are armed with a heavy whip and they hit us, and when they come we have to run and leave our stuff.”
For John, too, the dream was to support his family in Mozambique, and he hoped he could save enough money to buy his first car.
Those dreams have now disappeared.
“I am so scared that I even think about moving to another country, and at home in Mozambique they know our situation in South Africa and they pray for us,” says John.