Date Publish: 
Wednesday, February 22, 2017

                                                                                                                     INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATION FOR MIGRATION (IOM) CONCERNED ABOUT
                                                                                                                            ANTI-MIGRANT VIOLENCE IN PRETORIA AND JOHANNESBURG.

February 22, 2017

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has expressed its deep concern at the recent spate of violence targeted against migrants in Rosettenville and Pretoria West by individual citizens and organized community associations in both areas.

We are also very concerned about the planned march against migrants organized by the Mamelodi Concerned Residents set to take place in Tshwane on Friday, February 24th.

We condemn the attacks, looting and burning of property owned by foreign nationals and call on citizens to refrain from engaging in criminal activities and taking the law into their own hands. Rather, we encourage citizens to address their concerns around crime with their local municipal councillors and local police.

There is no evidence that foreign nationals are responsible for the rise in crime and unemployment. On the contrary, research shows that immigration does not harm the long-term employment prospects or wages of native-born workers. In South Africa, migrants are twice as likely to be entrepreneurs than South African nationals. Small and medium size business set up by migrants actively contribute to generate employment and boost the local and national economy as they employ on average five to six people, something which should be applauded.


In December 2016, IOM in partnership with the Department of Home Affairs held the second annual Mkhaya Awards. The Awards highlight the positive contributions that migrants have made in the areas of sports, arts, business and civil society in South Africa. The Mkhaya Awards are a further testament to the fact that migrants not only contribute economically to the country, but also foster social cohesion by bringing positive cultural influences that enrich South African society.

We encourage all spheres of government, society and the economy to address the three main root causes of violence against migrants: deep-rooted xenophobic sentiment among certain individuals; the actions of opportunists who take advantage of the breakdown in the rule of law to loot and destroy property; and the phenomenon of scapegoating migrants whereby they are blamed for problems in the community such as crime, unemployment, lack of service delivery and access to healthcare.

It is important to emphasize that each of these root causes require a distinct and focused response: the xenophobic feelings require social cohesion and cultural awareness programs; the response to criminal opportunism is strict law enforcement; the scapegoating of migrants is solved by addressing the underlying concerns and grievances, in order to improve the living conditions in the affected communities.

As IOM, we remain committed to supporting our partners at the Department of Home Affairs, Social Development, Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs and the National Disaster Risk Management and Prevention Centre to bring the situation under control, to prevent and reduce violence against foreign nationals and promote peaceful co-existence amongst mixed communities in South Africa.

IOM continues to celebrate migrants whom have come to this country pursuing a better life for themselves and their families. We continue to advocate for the values that are enshrined in the South African Constitution, specifically the Bill of Rights that uphold the principle of the Right to Equality.

For further queries please contact:
Lerato Tsebe [email protected] +27 (0)72 127 7094
Chiara Frisone [email protected]  +27 (0)79 520 4696

About the International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Established in 1951, IOM is the leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration and works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners. With 166 member states, a further 8 states holding observer status and offices in over 100 countries, IOM is dedicated to promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all. It does so by providing services and advice to governments and migrants. The UN migration Agency since September 2016, IOM works to help ensure the orderly and humane management of migration, to promote international cooperation on migration issues, to assist in the search for practical solutions to migration problems and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants in need, including refugees and internally displaced people.