A victimological exploration of the victimisation vulnerability of a group of foreign nationals in the city of Durban.
The reasons for leaving home are complex, but the majority of respondents acknowledged political-economy as one of the major reasons for leaving their home to search for a better life. In South Africa, the country, is politically and economically stable in comparison to other African countries, hence the choice of South Africa for black Africans who migrate. However, previous studies have shown that although attitudes towards non-nationals vary across South Africa’s socio-economic and ethnic spectrum, there is strong evidence that non-nationals living and/or working in South Africa face discrimination at the hands of citizens, governments officials, members of the police and private organisations contracted to immigration. The researcher explores the victimisation experiences of foreign nationals with the purpose to attract the attention of the government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), and Civil society activists, in order to raise the level of awareness. One of the objectives of this research was to explore the experiences of victims of xenophobia in the city of Durban, amongst groups of foreign nationals. The study focused on extensive literature review and the perceptions of participants who all have a shared experience of xenophobia. In conducting the literature review, the researcher used multiple information sources, including books, dissertations, internet resources, professional journals and periodicals. These sources were accessed through Google Scholar, EBSCOhost Web, JSTOR, ProQuest, Sabinet Reference, and Science Direct. The researcher also made use of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) website and the South African Migrant Project (SAMP) website to gather information on previous publications of studies that have been conducted in this area of study. The researcher sought to understand the nature and frequency of the victimisation of foreign nationals, and also the impact of their victimisation as well as the nature and function of coping mechanisms employed by foreign nationals in the face of victimisation and victimisation vulnerability. A qualitative survey-based research design was used to identify the various meanings underlying the respondents’ perceptions of xenophobia and the causes ascribed to the phenomenon. This approach allowed the use of in-depth thematic content analysis, revealing more detailed descriptions and a deeper understanding of xenophobia in South Africa. The use of a qualitative method was meant to exploring the experiences of the victimisation of a group of foreign nationals in the city of Durban. Twenty participants of different nationalities were invited to participate in the study. Participants were 19 to 35 ages old who resided in the city of Durban over 2 years and have experienced victimisation. The researcher used purposive sampling and snowball technique. Hence, participants in this study were purposefully selected from their churches, shops, and work sites but others were identified through snowball technique. Data collection was based on semi-structured interviews conducted on an individual basis. For ethical reasons, only foreign nationals living legally in the city were interviewed. These are those with refugee status, asylum seekers holding temporary permit, and economic migrants with work permits. The first major finding of this research is that the majority 85% of respondents have been victims of crime. Crime such as petty crime, house breaking, and shop looting have been identified as the main crimes that a group of foreign nationals have experienced during their stay in the city of Durban. It has been noticed that most of the victimisation are perpetrated by black local citizens and that government officials are not much seen as perpetrators for these crimes as they are not in full contact with a group of foreign nationals. Amongst a group of 20 respondents, 80% of the respondents reported have never been victimised by any government official, accusing the department of home affairs (DHA) to be the only governmental institution victimising a group of foreign nationals as it can be seen in the findings of this study. Some of the findings in this research have demonstrated poorer psychological health condition such as depression, stress, trauma and isolation as the main problems a group of foreign nationals encounter during and in the aftermath of their victimisation. Therefore, it can be concluded that the impact of the victimisation on a group of foreign nationals in this study is mostly psychological than physical. Most of the respondents who have been victimised, have suffered psychological damage such as trauma, depression, stress and isolation, resulting in fear. Consequently, respondents have reported living in fear in the city of Durban, thinking that “what has happened will happen again”. In addition to psychological health condition, loss of properties during shop looting and house breaking can also be seen as economic loss which can still play a psychological side effect on the victims. Although, the findings of this study demonstrate the treatment of black local citizen against fellow black African foreign nationals, it cannot be concluded that only black local citizens discriminate against fellow black African, but in some extent, foreigners are discriminated against by almost all existing races in South Africa. , it can also be argued that not only black foreign nationals are victimised but also other foreign nationals from other continents of the globe do face lesser degree of discrimination. The differences in the level of xenophobia can be explained by the pull factors of immigrants in South Africa. Mostly, African foreigners leave their countries to South Africa for economic reason, they come to search for jobs, and many other opportunities, this put them into conflict of interest with local citizens who are still struggling for their well-being, unlike Europeans, Asians, and Americans who come to South Africa, most of them come for business purposes, for which they are mostly the bosses. Others come because their skills are in demand in some industries or companies operating within South Africa. Therefore, even though people from other continents can be perceived to undergo lesser degree of discrimination within the South African institutions as a form of xenophobia, the above claim can be considered as the reason why local citizens do not threaten or attack foreigners other than those coming from African continent. Nonetheless, there is the issue of abuse of hospitality, South Africans gave foreigners refuge, but it transpires from Westville prison statistics that many migrants are abusing the hospitality of South Africa. Hence there is a need of making some recommendations as to address this situation. Xenophobia should not only be blamed for the South African government inability to deliver, but African countries’ corruption lack of accountability and transparency leading to the massive African migrants who migrate to SA for a search of peace, human rights, democracy and job opportunities, whose burden goes to SA. As a consequence, the SA government failure to deliver to its own citizens basic social needs, education, health, housing and employment won’t be able to assist the massive surge of migrants from other African countries. Corruption and irresponsible African leadership has led to South African carrying the burden of the African migration done. Basically, if most countries are doing very well, less corruption, civil wars, the need to travel to another country will be reduced.
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