A man looks at cars that were burnt during the latest spate of xenophobic attacks, at a car dealership in Johannesburg, South Africa, September 5, 2019. Picture: REUTERS / SIPHIWE SIBEKO
A man looks at cars that were burnt during the latest spate of xenophobic attacks, at a car dealership in Johannesburg, South Africa, September 5, 2019. Picture: REUTERS / SIPHIWE SIBEKO

International relations and co-operation minister Naledi Pandor ascribed the recent xenophobic attacks to the legacy of apartheid. The inequalities that resulted from decades of discrimination caused the poverty that fuels resentment and anger at others who only recently entered SA yet seem better off.

Though Pandor’s speech made sense, it is what was not said that must be heard as it is what is being said.

Those who decry the attacks on foreign shop owners and the looting of such businesses are saying: “But how is it that our own people are not running shops in the townships and CBD areas? Did the immigrants not have enormous difficulties not only entering the country but also obtaining the necessary licences and stock to run their shops? Why attack those whose lot has hardly been easier than that of the aggressors?''

If the answer to these questions is that these immigrants had the means to start up businesses, why is it that South Africans could not work together to do the same? Does the spirit of ubuntu now manifest itself in looting together?

Another reason given for the foreign shop owners  being attacked is that they are immediate and easy targets. There is no denying this, but whatever the minister says the fact is that these South Africans show an ability to destroy, not to create.

Roger Graham
Via e-mail