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Through the Fear: A Study of Xenophobia in South Africa’s Refugee System

Author(s): Janet McKnight

Journal: Journal of Identity and Migration Studies
ISSN 1843-5610

Volume: 2;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 18;
Date: 2008;
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Keywords: Refugee | Xenophobia | South Africa

In light of the May 2008 xenophobic attacks in Gauteng and Western Cape Provinces, this paper explains the process of refugee law in South Africa as stated in theory and as implemented in practice. Research was compiled through visits to refugee camps, townships, South African Parliament, regional prisons, judicial inspectorates, universities, and community events in and near Cape Town during June 2008. The South African Refugees Act guarantees protection to refugees and asylum seekers in conformity with international treaties and the South African Constitution. However, these rights are seldom realized due to a delay processing of asylum applications by the Department of Home Affairs, corruption in immigration enforcement, and a lack of education in civil society as to the difference between refugees and voluntary migrants. Refugees are left vulnerable to the violence of those South African citizens that believe all immigrants are illegally present to take advantage of employment and social opportunities. In an attempt to eliminate the fearfulness towards foreigners and bring the plight of refugees further to the forefront of international dialogue, general recommendations are made to the South African Government, its departments, and the citizens of South Africa.
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