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According to news reports, eight people have died and more than a thousand were displaced from their homes since the violence erupted several days ago in the provinces of KwaZuluNatal and Gauteng, including their capital cities Durban and Johannesburg.
Shops owned by migrants were violently attacked and looted and clashes on the street have sent hundreds of foreigners and migrants seeking refuge in police stations and community centres.
“These violent attacks driven by xenophobia and racism must stop immediately,” says PSI General Secretary Rosa Pavanelli. “We strongly condemn the actors that fuel this violence. In the midst of such turbulence, we must remember our humanity and the long history of struggle to end Apartheid. We call on all workers to unite and join forces to end this violence. We demand the South African Government to lead the way using peaceful means,” adds Pavanelli.
Currently, South Africa suffers a high level of unemployment reaching 25.5% in 2014. Poverty and inequality are rampant. Racism and xenophobia, which is the fear of the other, are inexorably linked to these social problems of joblessness, inequality and poverty. Fighting racism and inequality and promoting access to quality public services for all are therefore critical.
“PSI trade unions in South Africa must join forces to end these senseless attacks and the forces that fuel these attacks. We must continue to show our commitment to fight racism and all forms of discrimination and intolerance, guided by the respect for human rights and our trade union principles of social justice, equality, collective action and responsibility. We stand for unity. Racism is not for us!” stresses Pavanelli.
On 23 April, 20,000 people are expected to take part in the People's March Against Xenophobia in Johannesburg. Over 185 civil society organisations and trade unions have endorsed the march.