Tell South Africans that they are xenophobic and they will lash out at you in all manner of ways in defence of themselves and their fellow citizens. They will feign pain and outrage. They will be shocked at your accusation. After a vociferous denial of it all, they will likely conclude with the words: “But these foreigners must also stop…”

And there you have it. It is what xenophobes have been saying for centuries. These foreigners must stop “selling expired food” (many of us routinely find expired goods at many established grocery stores, but do we immediately loot and steal from the same shops?); the foreigners must stop “stealing our women”, the xenophobes say. They must stop stealing our husbands; they must not take our jobs; they must not make too much noise; they must not be so confident. In essence, these foreigners must stay away from me because, largely, I don’t know them and I fear the unknown.

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