Naming and exploring the causes of collective violence against African migrants in post-apartheid South Africa: Whither Ubuntu?
In South Africa, attacks mainly directed at black non-South Africans, is a rampant, longstanding phenomenon notwithstanding the spirit of Ubuntu which is thought to permeate the social fabric. Assumptions have been made in various labels describing the attacks, raising concerns about their appropriateness. Further, various explanations and hypotheses have been advanced about causes of or reasons for the attacks. The root causes of the attacks need to be properly understood for lasting solutions to be found. The objectives of this article are: first, to analyse the appropriateness of various labels in order to name the phenomenon South Africa is confronted with; and, secondly, to identify the root causes of the attacks. This analysis could assist in formulating policies and strategies to address the attacks. This article is theoretical, and it draws on in-depth analysis of relevant literature and empirical studies in order to addresses two research questions. First, are the attacks motivated by pure criminality, or are they manifestations of Afro-phobia/Negrophobia, expressions of xenophobia or indicators of outright racism? Secondly, what are the causes of or explanations for the attacks? On nomenclature, the article rejects the criminality label as reductionist. To an extent, the Afro-phobia/Negrophobia label has merit, but the racism tag is unsustainable. Xenophobia emerges as the appropriate description because empirical studies point to a significant number of South Africans holding xenophobic attitudes and having expressed their preparedness to forcefully eject foreign nationals. The article concludes that xenophobia is a complex phenomenon and has multiple causes, which must be properly understood and that finding effective solutions to it requires involvement of all key stakeholders.