What is it about?

Xenophobic violence poses to social cohesion in South Africa as well as a threat to the country’s diplomatic relations with other African countries. When trying to combat xenophobia, policymakers and researchers have to work with fragmented and, at times, contradictory sources of information. This can have a negative impact on the design and implementation of anti-xenophobia interventions. Using public opinion data, this article examines the determinants of past participation in xenophobic violence in South Africa.

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Why is it important?

The results demonstrate that a disturbing number of people admit to past violent behaviour, and a troubling number further report that they were willing to consider participating in anti-immigrant violence in future. Results show that participation in organised peaceful anti-immigrant activities (e.g., demonstrations and boycotts) are often the first step in a process of escalation that can result in xenophobic violence.


This study has important policy implications for combatting xenophobic violence. Given that past participation in peaceful anti-immigrant activity is a major determinant of this type of violence, policymakers can consider such activities as the early warning signs of forthcoming anti-immigrant hate crime. This will require better types of monitoring by police and greater attention given to conflict resolution at the community level.

Dr Steven Lawrence Gordon
Human Sciences Research Council

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: A violent minority? A quantitative analysis of those engaged in anti-immigrant violence in South Africa, South African Geographical Journal, April 2019, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/03736245.2019.1599413.
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