The Human Science Research Council (HSRC) has warned authorities to carefully monitor peaceful anti-immigrant activity as an early warning sign of imminent xenophobic violence.
A study by the HSRC has revealed that millions of South Africans are prepared to engage in anti-immigrant behaviour.
Researcher Steven Gordon says he’s found that the participation of anti-immigrant crimes is linked to the participation in other more peaceful anti-immigrant activities, hate-speech and demonstrations.
“Our research suggests that there’s often an escalation, in which peaceful anti-immigration activity escalates into violent anti-immigrant activity. So, the government must look carefully at peaceful anti-immigrant activity as an early warning sign of forthcoming anti-immigrant violence.”
Gordon said it’s important to implement long-term solutions to this problem.
“We see a lot of calls for very short-term solutions – the deployment of the army, increased police presence – these are necessary, but what we need is long-term solutions. We need mass education, civic engagement, community dialogue, better management of immigration and immigrants integration programs.”
He said there are many myths about the impact of international migrants on South African society.
“There are widespread beliefs that international migrants are a cause of crime, unemployment, prostitution, drug trafficking and even witchcraft. These claims are often baseless, lacking foundation in empirical evidence, yet seem to be entrenched in many communities in the country,” Gordon warned that these myths form the basis for a lot of anti-immigrant protests.
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