In the wake of economic turmoil in neighboring countries, South Africa has experienced a spike in immigration in recent years. Zimbabwe alone has seen an exodus of over 2 million, with many people looking for a better life in South Africa. This influx of immigrants and refugees has led to violence, looting and murder in some of South Africa’s poorest areas.
In the past week over 40 people have been killed and 28,000 made homeless as anti-immigrant violence has escalated in the townships surrounding Johannesburg and Cape Town. South African President Thabo Mbeki approved the deployment of the army Wednesday to help stop the attacks. While the army has been doing its best to subdue to the uprising, several antagonists have resorted to extreme guerrilla tactics including “necklace” lynching. Necklacing is when a car tire is filled with gasoline set ablaze around someone’s neck. The horrific tactic was a common tool of those in support the South African apartheid government, used to instill fear and quell the rebellion of South African people. Today, it’s function is similar – it is an oppressive tool used to frighten and intimidate those who would dare come to South Africa looking for a better life. So far, over 400 people have been arrested for crimes ranging from murder and property damage, to looting and causing a public disturbance. Contributions from community groups, churches and activists within the affected communities have also helped diffuse the situation.
What role can the African Union take to prevent situations like these from erupting? Deploying the army will not make up for the economic turmoil that is throwing these people into conflict. Also- the Cnn.com article on this issue seems to place blame on Zimbabwe via. Robert Mugabe. Is this justified?