A new word is needed for xenophobia, but it’s not criminality
In the end, the criminality narrative pits one set of criminals against another; the burden of violence is placed on victims
African migrants have once again been targeted for looting, violence and displacement in SA. Not only are the events reminiscent of 2008, 2015 and 2017, the narratives explaining them and the measures suggested to deal with them are more or less the same.
In 2008, when public attention to attacks on African migrants became global for the first time, then-president Thabo Mbeki declared that South Africans were not xenophobic. In 2015 his successor Jacob Zuma echoed similar sentiments. The explanation was that criminal elements were hiding behind xenophobia to disguise their actions.