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Fri Nov 28 20:07:19 SAST 2014

Xenophobia bomb going off while the government dithers

The Times Editorial | 13 July, 2012 00:43

The Times Editorial: The rising levels of attacks on foreigners who do business in townships across the country is proving difficult for the government to handle, let alone stop.

Cape Town woke up to violence yesterday as shops run by foreigners in Mitchell s Plain' s Beacon Valley section and Valhalla Park, near Cape Town International a irport, were attacked. In the Free State, more than 500 foreign nationals have been displaced after attacks against their businesses in Botshabelo.

Back in 2008, when Gauteng and some parts of the country experienced extreme acts of xenophobia, the government promised to act.

During its policy discussions two weeks ago, the ANC discussed ways to manage economic migrants.

According to proposals from the provinces, it became clear that some form of regulation was needed as the situation was getting out of hand.

The ANC in the Western Cape, one of the areas that saw foreign-owned shops looted and gutted yesterday, had proposed to bar foreigners from running tuckshops and renting houses from South Africans.

They also proposed asylum-seekers should not be allowed to earn a living while awaiting adjudication of their applications.

While the proposal borders on being xenophobic, the situation in most townships where illegal foreigners and asylum-seekers do their business was about to explode.

The ANC proposals come after the horse had long bolted.

Since a decision was taken to relax security at our border posts from 1994, there has been no clear guideline on how to deal with thousands of asylum-seekers flocking into the country and setting up businesses in townships.

With the high unemployment rate and a lack of regulation on the part of the government, attacks against foreigners are unlikely to stop. Instead, disgruntled communities will continue to blame refugees and asylum-seekers for their plight.

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