Lawyers for Human Rights expresses deep concern regarding the violent attacks on foreign nationals and foreign-owned businesses in Johannesburg, Pretoria, and other parts of the country, over the last two days.  The xenophobic outbreaks have led to loss of lives, displacement, and significant property damage, particularly in respect of an already-vulnerable portion of our population – asylum-seekers, refugees, and migrants living in South Africa, including workers in the informal sector.  

“This senseless violence re-opens the scar of the 2008 xenophobic attacks in South Africa that many organisations and networks have worked for over 10 years to heal”, said Sharon Ekambaram, head of LHR’s Refugee and Migrant Rights Programme, which assists some 15 000 individuals each year through its four walk-in clinics.  “Scapegoating of immigrants rather than seeking accountability from our leaders for the hardships experienced by the majority of South Africans must end. Unfounded, unsubstantiated public statements about foreign nationals fuel this type of violence”.

LHR calls on all state organs, political parties, trade unions, business, and Chapter 9 institutions to react to this week’s violent outbreaks, and to condemn in the strongest possible terms these attacks, which threaten the fabric of our democracy, and undermine our Constitution and the principles of equality, non-discrimination, and dignity upon which it is based. 

LHR’s offices remain open to assist individuals affected by the events of this week while we work to mobilize a broader civil society response to once again combat rising xenophobia in the country.

For further comment, please contact:

Sharon Ekambaram

Refugee and Migrant Rights Programme Manager

+27 83 634 8924