Original Research

Drivers of community xenophobic attacks in South Africa: poverty and unemployment

Malemela Mamabolo
The Journal for Transdisciplinary Research in Southern Africa | Vol 11, No 4 | a49 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/td.v11i4.49 | © 2015 Malemela Mamabolo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 24 February 2016 | Published: 31 December 2015

About the author(s)

Malemela Mamabolo, Department of Public Administration, University of Limpopo, Sovenga, South Africa

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This paper argues that attacks of foreign nationals in most local communities were sparked by desperation precipitated by high rates of poverty and unemployment in South Africa. Additionally, there is citizens’ frustrations with the perceived competition for access to the available resources, especially among poor people who are unemployed with no formal business support from government. In South Africa’s twenty years of democracy, poverty and unemployment still remain critical concerns particularly among the poor in most townships and rural communities. Despite the country’s initiative to identify policies and strategies that could be adopted to address the status quo, the majority has continued to live in abject poverty and demeaning unemployment. Lack of economic opportunities in South Africa continues to create hatred between foreign nationals and locals, sparking xenophobic attacks. South African citizens accused foreigners of stealing their jobs and other opportunities. The article recommends that South Africa should create a harmonious business environment for both locals and foreign nationals running businesses.


xenophobic attacks; foreign nationals; local business; poverty; unemployment; South Africa


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