Date: Apr 5, 2019 Type: , Country:

South Africa: Authorities must tackle longstanding impunity to end xenophobia

In response to the “follow-up” meeting between the Minister of International Relations and Cooperation Lindiwe Sisulu and the Minister of Police Bheki Cele with Heads of the Diplomatic Missions represented in South Africa “to find a lasting solution” to xenophobic attacks in the country, Shenilla Mohamed, Executive Director of Amnesty International South Africa, said:

“Longstanding criminal justice failures and toxic populist rhetoric are some of the unresolved issues behind the latest round of xenophobic violence against refugees and migrants in South Africa.

“For many years, South African authorities have largely failed to address past outbreaks of xenophobic crimes that have been seen in the country since at least 2008, including bringing those suspected to be responsible to justice.

“Political leaders must also stop making discriminatory and inflammatory remarks about migrants and foreign nationals, especially in an apparent attempt to gain votes in the current election season.

“Rather than making comments that risk fanning the flames of xenophobia, the authorities must act to counter stereotypes, eradicate discrimination and foster greater equality and social cohesion in South Africa.

“South African authorities must come up with a top-down security approach to ensure effective protection for refugees, migrants and asylum seekers against xenophobic attacks. The government must take concrete steps to hold suspected perpetrators to account. That begins with tackling impunity for past xenophobia-related crimes.”


Today’s meeting is a follow-up gathering by the stakeholders following their first encounter on 1 April 2019. The meetings were prompted by the recent spike in attacks in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal Province.

South Africa has been battling with recurring incidents of xenophobia since 2008, in part fueled by impunity. 

For more information or to request an interview, please contact:

Mienke Steytler, Media and Digital Content Officer, Amnesty International South Africa: +27 11 283 6000 (office) or +27 (0)64 890 9224 (mobile);

Public Document 


Amnesty International South Africa office, 97 Oxford Road, Saxonwold, Johannesburg, 2196; +27 11 283 6000; email: