Human Rights in South Africa: Are we just being hypocritical?

On 21 March 2017, we celebrate Human Rights day.  Here, Fr Rampe Hlobo, S.J, for the Jesuit Institute South Africa, reflects on one the most pressing needs of our time: the rights of refugees and migrants.  

One of the recurring and ugly characteristics of our post-apartheid South Africa has been the perennial human rights violations of migrants and refugees. As far back as 1998 we heard about the horrific xenophobic experiences of foreign nationals. One prominent example was of three men from Senegal and Mozambique who were thrown out of a moving train by a group of South Africans in Johannesburg. Almost ten years later, in May 2008, South Africans embarked on the ugliest and most horrendous xenophobic attacks – the worst of their kind, since the dawn of post-apartheid South Africa. Over sixty migrants and refugees were killed and thousands more were forcibly displaced.

It is now almost twenty years since those three men were thrown out of the train. Yet the violations of the rights of migrants and refugees have not stopped. If the past decade is anything to go by, these violations, instead of disappearing, have become entrenched, more widespread and seemingly acceptable. The persecution of foreigners is even encouraged in some quarters of South African society […]

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