Developing an effective response to addressing Xenophobia in SA - An ISI Roundtable

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the Inclusive Society Institute or its Board or Council members.

Author: Melanie Lue

Editor: Daryl Swanepoel





Panel Discussion

  • What drives xenophobia in South Africa? What research tells us?

  • A statistical overview of migration in South Africa – Implications for migration management and addressing xenophobia

  • Reframing interventions: Towards a plan beyond the National Action Plan on Racism and Xenophobia

  • Does immigration policy and laws fuel xenophobia?

  • Aligning policy and legislation to ensure consistency in action


Way Forward

Annexure A: Dr Steven Gordon’s full presentation

Annexure B: Mr Diego Iturralde’s full presentation

Annexure C: Prof Loren Landau’s full presentation


Cover page picture source:


On the 17 August 2022 the Inclusive Society Institute (Institute) hosted a roundtable discussion titled ‘Developing an Effective Response to Addressing Xenophobia in South Africa’. The roundtable is the first engagement in a two-part series of discussions. The second engagement is planned at a strategic level with senior government stakeholders and policy makers.

The motivation for the roundtable stems from concerns of growing levels of intolerance to migrants and the increasing number of xenophobic attacks. This coupled with anomalies in government’s response to issues of migration have called into question South Africa’s commitment to domestic, regional, and international trade and human rights commitments. Recognising xenophobia threatens the foundation of South Africa’s constitutional values of equality and human dignity; and poses a real threat to the country’s developmental agenda; the Institute decided to host the roundtable to bring together experts and civil society stakeholders to investigate challenges and opportunities to effectively respond to xenophobia in South Africa.

The following issues were discussed:

  • What drives xenophobia in South Africa? - What the research tells us?

  • A Statistical overview of migration in South Africa - Implications for migration management and addressing xenophobia.

  • Reframing interventions: Towards a plan beyond the National Action Plan on Racism and Xenophobia.

  • Does immigration policy and laws fuel xenophobia?

  • Addressing the lack of consistency in government responses to dealing with xenophobia? How to align policy and legislation to ensure consistency in action.

The roundtable took place in person in Cape Town at the Inclusive Society Institute’s offices and via online streaming.


The discussion is timely given increasing xenophobic outbreaks, and growing lack of trust by South Africans according to recent polls. Invitations were extended to relevant government departments.

Panel Discussion

What drives xenophobia in South Africa? What research tells us?

Dr Steven Gordon of the Human Sciences Research Council presented key findings from the last decade of public opinion research focusing on the drivers/factors informing xenophobia and discussed the implications of this research.

Xenophobia is defined in the National Action Plan to Combat Racism, Racial Discrimination, xenophobia and Related Intolerance (NAP) as an attitudinal orientation/ hostility towards international migrants. Xenophobia manifests in different ways - the most visible being violence; and further that it disproportionately affects the poor and the working class impacting those who specifically work in the informal economy and live in the townships.

The growing level of populism and exploitation of the immigration issue by politicians and community leaders, and the impact of the coronavirus epidemic which has negatively affected millions and resulted in the largest economic recession in over a century, have fuelled tensions.

Key findings from research conducted examining public opinion since 2003 included:

  • It is wrong to classify South Africa as a purely xenophobic society. Only a third of the adult population harbour extremely negative views of international migrants.

  • Posing the question - Would you welcome to South Africa all immigrants, some immigrants or no immigrants? – Results from surveys fluctuated. Researchers examining these spikes found these could be contributed to specific events e.g., a spike in pro-immigrant sentiment in 2008 could be attributed to post rioting media and community pushing back against xenophobic attitudes. Spikes in 2015 coincided with anti-xenophobia media campaigns following widespread violence in eThekwini and Johannesburg in the beginning of that year.

  • Addressing why people have negative views of international migrants, researchers found that 60 percent in a given survey round believed that international migrants were responsible for socio-economic problems. A small minority, saw international migrant’s economic and social contribution positively

  • There is a deep misunderstanding about the actual number of people who are foreign born living in South Africa. Half the adult population think there are between 17- 40 million international migrants in the country. There are in fact only around 4 million of which it is estimated that only half are illegal migrants and the remained legal. This misconception is driven by scapegoating rumours.

  • A key question therefore is where do people get their information about international migrants? Primary sources included the broadcast media, television and most importantly radio. Over the last few years social media has become more important as a source of information. It is therefore important to understand how the broadcast media is reporting on international migration and the extent to which it is challenging myths and stereotypes.

  • The general population is divided on the issue of refugees. A substantial proportion of the population do reject refugees living and working in South African at all.

  • Participation in anti-immigrant violence is increasing. The survey asked people if they have partaken in violence against immigrants. In 2015, only about five to six percent of the adult population were willing to indicate that they had taken part in this type of violence; 13 percent indicated that they had not taken part but might do so; 80 percent said that they had not done it and would never do it. However, over the years a greater share of the adult population has shown a willingness to admit to engaging in xenophobic violence.

  • The reasons advanced for participation in this form of violence included blaming migrants for violence. These were driven by ignorance, misinformation and emotional factors with jealousy being the most important emotional factor listed. Myths about the impact of international migrants on society further perpetuates explanations for anti-immigrant violence.

  • A substantial share of the population called for the expulsion of immigrants when asked what can be done to stop violence against foreigners living in the country. Other solutions put forward focussed on social factors, education, community dialogue, changing the way people viewed the world.

Recommendations noted included:

  • The need to address this attitudinal problem through effective communication and education campaigns. A large segment of the population, about a third, have extremely strong and negative views of international migrants fuelled by false stereotypes. There is a need for special communication strategies to shift opinions and attitudes.

  • The importance of encouraging greater integration of international migrants into communities which will help dispel some of the negative and false stereotypes about foreign nationals. That government should consider comprehensive immigrant integration strategies which would help immigrants integrate into local communities.

  • Clearing the backlog and reducing some of the obstacles that refugees and asylum seekers have in accessing documentation – which is a main blockage to successful integration.

Challenges noted included:

  • The restrictionism and oppositional view to international migrants by the Department of Home Affairs.

  • The growing politics of anti-migrant sentiment.

Dr Steven Gordon’s full presentation is attached as Annexure A

A Statistical overview of migration in South Africa - Implications for migration management and addressing xenophobia

Mr Diego Iturralde from the Demography and Population Statistics at Statistics South Africa presented empirical research data debunking myths which have fuelled xenophobic sentiment.

  • The size of the foreign-born population: In the three preceding population censuses there has been a gradual progression from 1996 to 2001 from about 830,000 to just over 1 million immigrants; the 2001 to 2011 censuses showed a significant increase to 2.18, indicating 2.2 million foreign born persons in South Africa. This represents 4.2 percent of the population. The data therefore debunks the common perception that there is a large number of foreign nationals in the country as claimed recently by the Minister of Home Affairs, Minister Motsoaledi, who stated there are 13 million irregular migrants in South Africa. Mid-year populations estimate for 2022 indicated that 3.98 million persons are foreign born. This is supported by other indicators such as spikes in deaths or births, consumption of services or size of vat. This dispels the myth that there are millions and millions of undocumented migrants in South Africa.

  • The term ‘foreign’ includes not only migrants but people who have moved to South Africa and have become South Africans over time; people with work permits and study permits; documented migrants; unaccompanied minors; and asylum seekers or refugees.

  • In terms of where foreign nationals come from the top countries on the continent were Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Lesotho and Malawi.

  • One of the biggest contributors to anti-immigrant sentiment comes from misinformation and the irresponsible diffusion of information by people in positions of leadership. This is accompanied by the failure to make use of official statistics for decision making, planning and policy development.

  • Challenges with undercounting of the migrant population would be similar to that of the non-migrant population. Furthermore, it would not be on the scale as proposed by certain groups. The 2022 survey seeks to address the issue of undercounting through the Post Enumeration Survey. Furthermore, other data is considered i.e., population estimates which use a demographic model considering birth, deaths and net international migration.

  • Allegations that that migrants are ‘stealing jobs’ are inaccurate:

  • Migrants have a long-standing employment record in South Africa and have been found to contribute to the economy as indicated in the World Bank study which found that for every employed migrant he/ she creates jobs for two South Africans.

  • On the question that migrants are stealing jobs in specific sectors of the economy. Research indicates that migrants work primarily in the informal sector. Using the ILO decent work framework - immigrants scored worst in eight of the 11 categories. The work migrants do is in fact primarily in the informal sector and is mostly considered as not decent work. The informal sector is dominated by males, people aged 15 to 44 and it occurs, mostly, in non-metros. This debunks another perception that informality is most prevalent in metros but in fact is highest in the Eastern Cape at 66.3 percent; Free State at 71.8, KZN at 65.5 and even Mpumalanga and Limpopo at 62.7 and 64 percent respectively. The proportion of persons involved in the informal sector increased from 11.6 to 12.3 percent from 2012 to 2017; the census indicated there that it’s at 13.05 percent; in restaurants, bars and canteens and shebeens this increased from 8.5 to 10.6 percent – which is less than claims of 40, 50, 60 percent. Given the very small increment over time it is unlikely to change dramatically in 2022. Therefore, claims that certain sectors are overwhelmed by foreign nationals cannot be supported.

  • It would be improper, and there’s no evidence to suggest that all social ills are due to the existence of migrants.

  • South Africa is a signatory to the Global Compact for migration and the Global Compact on refugees. Both are best practice guides on migration and refugee management for state parties. These two documents provide South Africa with a guideline on how it should approach migration and refugee management in South Africa.

  • The establishment of the National Migration and Urbanisation Forum in August of 2021 is an important initiative to assist policy makers. This forum meets every three months with the intention of elevating discussions around migration and urbanisation with the view to inform policy. One of the outputs is to produce a migration profile report which is a government owned resource with migration data, which countries around the world are producing. A national migration data hub be housed at Statistics South Africa.

  • Post-Covid, South Africa is on the road to recovery which should be inclusive of migrants and using all the resources and the contributions that migrants bring to the table.

Responding to questions it was noted that:

  • Administrative data is unfortunately unreliable. The Department of Home Affairs was only able to account for about 2 million of the 3.6 million foreign born persons. The Department of Home Affairs is only able to account for people who enter the country and who approach the department. What some countries do in order to plan for services, is to encourage migrants to register on a database which is firewalled from the security cluster, so that their identity and their whereabouts can be protected.

  • The biggest challenge therefore is to get government departments to produce administrative statistics and to disaggregate these by migrant status and, secondly, to share it with Statistics SA. An example of misinformation is the claim a few years ago that there were about 1 million undocumented learners in public schools - however about 900,000 of these learners were actually South Africans who, for a variety of reasons, did not have an ID book. The citizen survey conducted by HSRC found that about four percent of the adult public claimed not to have a 13 digit ID document. This could indicate as a rough estimate the proportion of the adult population, who did not have ID documentation.

  • Xenophobic attitudes not only hurt the foreigners in South Africa. Many investors are choosing to go and invest elsewhere in the region affecting South Africa’s GDP, inflation and other economic indicators.

  • South Africa has signed the Pan-African Free Trade Agreement and plays a big role in the African Union. Xenophobia and this increasing animosity towards international migrants are hurting South Africa’s standing on the continent and preventing plans for regional integration which has economic and social benefits for South Africa.

Mr Diego Iturralde’s full presentation is attached as Annexure B

Reframing interventions: Towards a plan beyond the National Action Plan on Racism and Xenophobia

Prof Loren Landau of the African Centre for Migration & Society, University of Witwatersrand presentation drew from work done on the Xenowatch project which has been tracking data on xenophobia, and other work with migrant rights groups.

Addressing attitudes and tackling the issue of scapegoating / xenophobic mobilisation is necessary but there we need to reframe interventions about how we think about security and accountable governance.

Anti-immigrant attitudes are ‘pretty strong’ among the population at large and particularly among the poorer population. To this point, a 2021 IPSOS survey commissioned by the Inclusive Society Institute (ISI, 2022) found that only 31,23 percent of South Africans said that they trusted or somewhat trusted immigrants from Africa. Similarly, only 32,29 percent said that they trusted or somewhat trusted immigrants from outside of Africa.

But that xenophobic violence doesn’t take place everywhere but in specific areas. So, while it’s useful to do public education and try to change and reframe attitudes - this not the proximate cause of the violence. If we want to change South African attitudes across the board, this is a multi-generational long-term project. But if we look at the people getting involved in xenophobic violence or mobilisation it is not about information or people not knowing about the rights of immigrants.

The most important factor in the outbreak of xenophobic violence is that it occurs where there is contested authority. Examples cited included:

  • In 2008, it occurred during the breakdown of the ANC and its structures at the local level as they became fragmented over debates over Mbeki’s response to HIV and, then Zuma’s rise in power. People tried to take advantage of a weaker fragmented system and establish themselves as political authorities in specific areas - ‘township governance’.

  • Another example is in Robertson and the conflicts between labour brokers which are not being regulated by the police, party structures, the church, religious institutions or NGOs.

Where there are stable institutions that can do conflict resolution and where the police respond quickly – xenophobic attacks don’t happen. The attitudes might remain, the ignorance, the dislike of immigrants but what we are not seeing is that overt violence.

The need to reframe interventions by:

  • Placing this issue on the agenda - to go beyond this outrage of xenophobia and think about how do we address people like the Dudula’s?

  • Addressing the question - how do we address the community-based organisations that are leading the xenophobic violence? These groups do use a human rights language – promising to deliver to poor South Africans human rights, welfare, security – ironically they are fighting for social justice. We need to recognise that their claims, not the accusations against immigrants. Their concerns are about justice being denied, increasing inequality, inflation, violence and economic insecurity.

  • Understanding that immigration is not really the issue that we should be debating here because that’s not what is underlying the continued inequalities and injustices that South Africans are facing. We need to address the issue of xenophobia and xenophobic violence and re-centre this discussion. We need to move the discussion away from migrant rights and what should be done for migrants because South Africans are not interested in having that discussion. The more we focus on this the more we fuel the Dudula’s and the other organisations whose interests is that South Africans should come first.

In conclusion, it was noted that it is necessary to reframe this discussion about what is good for South Africa and South Africans (regional trade is important), but we need to be talking about what is going to make South Africans safer and townships (the places where the violence is happening) more governable, more sustainable and more secure. The question is not about immigration at all but, gangster government - the way vigilantes have taken over the law. Myth busting must continue by not allowing certain types of accusations to go unchallenged, but we need to reframe these discussions about what is important to the South Africans who are getting involved in these organisations. To try to hear their pain and to try to address those issues and reframe them in ways that people can redirect their attention to the source of their challenges - which is the failure of government to provide security, jobs, development and to give people hope for a better life.

Prof Landau’s full presentation is attached at Annexure C

Does immigration policy and laws fuel xenophobia?

Unless we work assiduously so that all of God's children, our brothers and sisters, members of our one human family, all will enjoy basic human rights, the right to a fulfilled life, the right of movement, of work, the freedom to be fully human, with a humanity measured by nothing less than the humanity of Jesus Christ Himself, then we are on the road inexorably to self-destruction, we are not far from global suicide; and yet it could be so different.

(Archbishop Desmond Tutu)

Ms Sharon Ekambaram of Lawyers for Human Rights, Refugee & Migrant Rights Programme addressed the issue of government’s response to xenophobia.

There is a need to refocus the discussion on xenophobia in the context of inequality, the slow pace of transformation, and the crisis in democracy and governance. Issues identified included:

  • The endemic nature of corruption and its impact on governance (including the Department of Home Affairs).

  • The need to acknowledge the impact of the geopolitics of Apartheid. The current way in which South Africa is managing the movement of people of African descent is reminiscent of apartheid pass laws.

  • The need to rethink how we are managing migration - the criminalisation of migration has actually fuelled and given legitimacy to Operation Dudula and its vigilantism.

  • The impact of populism on policy developments. Citing examples of the Refugee Bill, Gauteng Development Bill, Johannesburg Informal Traders Bill, and the ANC’s new policy document on migration which speaks about withdrawing from the 1951 Convention and presents migration as a threat to national security.

  • The growing use of national security language when discussing migration. The language of national security speaks to the difficulty of determining appropriate balances between security and privacy (citing Prof Duncan). The police have strayed from their post-1994 mandate and become alienated from the community - this is evident in the role of the security system in society and indicates a movement to a climate of heightened repression.

  • The non-existence of Chapter 9 institutions in ensuring accountability.

  • The failure to acknowledge the impact of the climate crisis citing examples of floods in KZN and in Mozambique – and the impact of climate change on displacement of populations.

  • The need for disaggregated data is crucial for a better understanding of the internal and international movement of people and central to evidenced based policy making.

  • The growth of narrow national chauvinism which is resulting in the othering and hatred for anyone who is not South African, is of grave concern.

Aligning policy and legislation to ensure consistency in action.

Ms Franzman from the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development (DOJ)- the focal agency for the NAP, addressed the work being done on the National Action Plan

  • The DOJ has been implementing a number of actions over the past few years since the Cabinet’s approval of NAP’s five year programme of action.

  • The implementation of the NAP is closely aligned with the government’s medium strategic framework particularly under the Priority Six which is the Social Cohesion Programme led by the Department of Sport, Arts and Culture.

  • The DOJ has commissioned a baseline study (conducted by the HSRC) to determine levels of racism, anti-foreigner sentiment, homophobia, racial incidents, interracial relations and perceptions of national identity.

  • The service directory for victims of discrimination has been developed and is currently a soft copy.

  • An integrated government strategy on public education in respect of anti-discrimination to support NAP has also been developed.

  • The DOJ continues to roll out social mobilisation dialogues to address xenophobia working in partnership with government and other stakeholders. Funding remains an issue, especially for non-government role-players to implement. A funding model has been developed to address this.

  • The DOJ is also part of the United Nations Protection Working Group which is a structure comprising of a number of stakeholders from government, civil society, United Nations agencies, and Chapter Nine institutions led by United Nations High Commission for Refugees. The DOJ is co-chairing a specific group dealing with incidents of xenophobic threats and violent attacks. Threats are referred to DevComm (part of the JCPS Cluster) but there is not as yet a fully operational rapid response mechanism. The setting up of the rapid response mechanism is underway with the United Nations Office on the High Commission for Human Rights.

  • South Africa has reiterated its support for the Global Compact on migration at the International Migration and Refugee Forum (May 2022).

  • The development of a framework for a virtual repository on data collection of disaggregated statistical data in support of the NAP is in progress.

  • The coordinating structure for the National Action Plan was set up in March. The top level of the structure is headed by the Minister of Justice, and it comprises of eight departments including South African Police Service, Home Affairs, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs and others. The next level structure, which is like an implementation structure is to be set up in this quarter.

  • The implementation structure for National Action Plan is envisaged to be a multi-sectorial structure with a number of specific task teams with representation from civil society- some have been identified already to look at issues of research, data collection, public education et cetera. This structure will strengthen alignment across government. The inclusion of more stakeholders, such researchers and academics that come on board to support it, will assist in strengthening and guiding evidence-based interventions.

  • The National Action Plan is close to the end of its first five year plan and needs to be revised. This is an opportunity to gather key government departments together in terms of their specific mandates and engage with research and data.

  • The DOJ will be going back to Cabinet to brief Cabinet on the findings of the baseline study. This provides an opportunity to brief the ministerial structure of the National Action Plan the next time it is convened on findings and research. This could assist in intensifying and strengthening support for the National Action Plan.

  • The DOJ continues work with civil society partners to support implementation for the NAP.


The following additional inputs were made:

Governance Challenges:

  • The importance of recognising how fragile and vulnerable South Africa is from a governance perspective. Research conducted by HSRC has found a substantial decline in public trust in key institutions, the police, national government, parliament, and local government. The lowest level of national trust was reached in 2017 during the exit of Jacob Zuma with a brief improvement under Ramaphosa, but in the last two years there has been a further decline across many key institutions. Issues of immigration cannot be sealed off from the wider climate of a very fragile status quo.

Limitations of the NAP

  • The National Action Plan has always been constrained in what it can do and assigning the lead to Arts and Culture, for example, has shifted many of the interventions into this realm of attitudes, culture and understanding and away from issues of governance, criminal accountability, urban planning et cetera. that are really at the root of inequality. So, there’s a limit in what the National Action Plan can do in terms of addressing what is at the root of the anger, but also what is the proximate causes of the violence.

  • Securing commitment to actions required buy-in from different departments is a challenge. The artificial compartmentalisation between departments, and the limited view of social cohesion which tend to be relegated to symbols and attitudes, is a challenge.

  • A multi-faceted approach is required given the multiple factors contribute to xenophobia. Clear leadership is needed in the different sectors.

Crisis in Policing

  • APCOF explained the research they have been involved in which tried to understand the way in which South African Police Service (SAPS) is structurally enabled and functionally performing in terms of detection, prevention and responses to xenophobic violence and related hate crimes. Key findings of the research included:

  • There are structural limitations both in terms of the legal framework but particularly the policy framework under which SAPS is operating as well as in terms of attitudinal issues.

  • There’s no drilling down of the equality framework to the operational level where there are some discriminatory practices in terms of the policing of foreign nationals. APCOF found that this is manifesting as a dual phenomenon of over policing and under policing. Foreign nationals are being specifically targeted for policing and law enforcement and seen as soft targets. This is driven by attitudinal issues and corruption.

  • There is a lack of training and preparedness at an operational station level. The police are not well trained and do not understand immigration, refugee laws and issues related thereto.

  • The failure of early warning systems and the failure of crime intelligence were also noted.

  • Lack of knowledge about immigration policies and the kind of struggles that migrants face in obtaining documents and asylum permits and implications of police action for example removing immigrants away documents.

  • The absence of a policy by SAPS on issues around non-nationals, migration and xenophobia; systemic and endemic levels of corruption when it comes to migration and non-nationals; and the failure of SAPS to implement original recommendations of more than a decade ago to address xenophobia.

  • There is a significant breakdown in trust in the police. Recent research by the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime which found extortion rackets prevalent in Khayelitsha and the extent to which the police were completely unaware.

  • There is a serious crisis of the policing system including the roles that, for example, the Civilian Secretariat and IPID should be playing. Poor performance is evident for example in despite a 66 percent increase in the budget of the police since 2012 to 2020, their ability to solve murders dropped by 38 percent, assault and armed robberies dropped by 24 percent. Both those crime categories have gone up massively and there has been a huge growth of organised crime. So, the system is actually deteriorating and continues to deteriorate because the internal accountability mechanisms are dysfunctional - people don’t get held accountable for not doing what they’re doing.

  • Whatever is on paper doesn’t exist in terms of the daily practices of policing on the streets of South Africa. We do not need more police officers - if we want to improve public safety, we have to re-orientate the entire organisation and what it does starting with its leadership cohort. This recommendation he noted goes as far back as the 2012 from the National Development Plan. There are 174 generals at the moment who are fighting with each other, some of them are involved with organised crime, some in corruption, some with deep roots and loyalties to the former president, and some are just waiting to retire. These factors are contributing to the decline and deterioration in all these systems - resourcing, planning strategies, accountability and incentives.

  • South Africa has not had a permanent head of crime intelligence since the end of 2019. The top six people were removed, and more localised intelligence officials are not getting much direction from the top. SAPS, the single biggest law enforcement capability in the country needs urgent attention. There is work going on to fix the National Prosecuting Authority, the Hawks and Special Investigations Unit, but the single organisation that can play a role of providing some kind of security at a local level is deteriorating and continues to deteriorate and is now part of the threat to national security.

  • The police are not underpaid in accordance with the public sector. In fact, they get paid more than other public servants on the same grades and they also get better benefits and so forth. So, the issue is not salaries. Bad cops don’t improve their behaviour because they get paid more.

  • Policing approaches are not evidence based, are not evaluated but driven by political considerations to be seen to be doing something, to be visible to the community, to be seen to be responding to community concerns. What is needed is a complete re-orientation of the organisation itself and what it uses its resources for.

  • The serious crisis within the police and law enforcement is crosscutting, it’s not just the xenophobia against foreign nationals, but gender-based violence, how protests are managed, and police heavy handedness, corruption and crime and extortion.

  • Reasons for poor trust in the police are very inefficient and unable to provide a secure and safe environment and secondly, that the police are not fair and impartial in their provision of justice, often treating people in a brutal and exploitative manner.

  • The issue of vigilantism and alarming findings that 43 percent of the adult population agrees it’s sometimes okay to take the law into your own hands and about 63 percent believe that communities should organise themselves to defend themselves against criminals, is disconcerting. Such support for vigilantism is not concentrated primarily amongst the poorer working class but is found across the socio-economic divide in South Africa.

Holding government accountable?

  • Concern was expressed at the failure of Chapter Nine Institutions to hold government accountable.

  • The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) indicated it continues to do advocacy work on countering xenophobia for example in in schools and communities, and has provided training to various institution and departments including the SAPS and Home Affairs. Furthermore, in line with its mandate it has conducted investigations into xenophobia and made recommendations.

Way Forward

Given the above contributions and discussion, the Inclusive Society Institute recommends government take the following steps:

  • The DOJ ensure the National Action Plan Ministerial Structure and Cabinet is briefed on:

  • Research findings and data

  • The disjuncture in government responses, policy and compliance with international commitments (at national, provincial and municipal levels).

  • The need to comply with best practice guides in terms of migration and refugee management (as signatory to the Global Compact for migration and the Global Compact on refugees).

  • That Government commit to an evidence based policy development approach across all spheres of government and:

  • Put in place measures to monitor compliance.

  • Ensure research and data collected by structures such as the National Migration and Urbanisation Forum is effectively disseminated across government departments and spheres of government to inform policy making.

  • That DOJ motivate for the urgent establishment of the implementation structure for the National Action Plan and:

  • Strengthen participation of research institutions, academia and civils society in the implementation structure and subcommittee working groups.

  • Urgently activate the Early Warning and Response Capacity and ensure this capacity adopt holistic approach (not being purely security centric) as noted above.

  • That the DOJ urgently commence the review of the National Action Plan and ensure the review address the limitations including:

  • The efficacy of Arts and Culture as lead department.

  • Extension of the current focus of National Action Plan as cited above (including contested authority, issues of governance, town planning etc.).

  • Adopting an evidenced based approach relying on accurate research and empirical data.

  • Address both prevention and response in strategies.

  • The review and strengthening of SAPS and law enforcement training and policies in line with international best practice.

  • The SAHRC investigate Government’s failure to implement previous findings and recommendations on xenophobia, and non-compliance with key international conventions.

Annexure A

Dr Steven Gordon’s full presentation

Annexure B

Mr Diego Iturralde’s full presentation

Annexure C

Prof Loren Landau’s full presentation


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This report has been published by the Inclusive Society Institute

The Inclusive Society Institute (ISI) is an autonomous and independent institution that functions independently from any other entity. It is founded for the purpose of supporting and further deepening multi-party democracy. The ISI’s work is motivated by its desire to achieve non-racialism, non-sexism, social justice and cohesion, economic development and equality in South Africa, through a value system that embodies the social and national democratic principles associated with a developmental state. It recognises that a well-functioning democracy requires well-functioning political formations that are suitably equipped and capacitated. It further acknowledges that South Africa is inextricably linked to the ever transforming and interdependent global world, which necessitates international and multilateral cooperation. As such, the ISI also seeks to achieve its ideals at a global level through cooperation with like-minded parties and organs of civil society who share its basic values. In South Africa, ISI’s ideological positioning is aligned with that of the current ruling party and others in broader society with similar ideals.


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