Migrants Beaten, Burned and Killed in S. Africa

May 20, 2008

Violence in South Africa

(S. African police trying to aid Zimbabwean man burned by S. African anti-migrant mobs)

S. African mobs armed with machetes, sticks and other weapons beat, burned and killed Zimbabwean migrants in areas in and around Johannesburg. The best reporting on these truly tragic developments can be found in the U.K. Guardian.

These most recent attacks follow escalating anti-migrant violence aimed not just at Zimbabweans, but at Somalis, Mozambicans and other groups in the past couple of years. What is striking about this turn of events is that S. Africa has been and continues to be at the fore of economic and political development in Africa. Adding a painfully ironic twist to this tragedy is the fact that the Ramaphosa squatter community (named for Cyril Ramaphosa, former secretary general of the African National Congress or “ANC) and other sites of recent violence against non-citizens were the site of death squad and other state violence against black S. Africans during the apartheid era. Now men in ANC government uniforms are protecting non-citizens being terrorized by citizens.

The South African violence must be viewed as one of the many noxious effects of the global crisis gripping Africa and the entire planet. Anti-migrant violence worldwide is on the increase in no small part because even some of the once strong economies and polities like those of S. Africa or the U.S. are exhibiting the symptons -and deadly behaviors- of failed states.

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