Xenowatch: What you can do about xenophobia

By Doug Mattushek - 09 September 2019Views : 1000

Xenowatch, a monitoring tool that tabulates xenophobic violence across South Africa, has some tips about what you can do to curb xenophobia...

Reach out personally

Make a mental list of all the people you know who are not South African. Your colleagues, your neighbours, your employees, even the parents at your school.

Reach out to them and ask them how they are doing today. Whatsapp is good, a phone call is better and seeing them in person is the best. Tell them that you are aware of the fears of xenophobia that are circulating and you wanted to check in with how they are doing. That it is only a handful of South Africans who are fueling hate and violence and that you are standing in solidarity with your acquaintance. Encourage them to reach out to you if there is anything you can do.

Claim symbolic space

Neutral and public spaces are being populated by fears and threats. Reverse these by putting out messages of solidarity, supporting diversity and resisting xenophobia.

Draft your own messages, or use these posters that are downable here.

Change your social media profile photos, upload posters, print out images and post it on the wall of where you live, facing out towards public spaces

Push for public statements

Encourage your employer, your sports body, your religious institution, your stokvel or bridge club to release a statement condemning xenophobia and gender based violence, reconfirming its principles of non-discrimination and that it is standing in solidarity with migrants.

Push until they do something publicly. Remind them if you must that "Bad things happen when good people do nothing". Every statement matters and adds to the voices against hate and intolerance.

Challenge xenophobia when you see it

Use the Bystander Approach to refuse a potentially volatile situation, but only if its safe and appropriate.

The technique is called 'non-complementary behavior,' and is intended to disempower an aggressive person by countering their expectations. If you see a person being verbally abused, go and engane in friendly conversation with them while ignoring the attacker. 

Fact Check

Do not circulate messages, especially videos and images, about xenophobia that you have not factchecked or are from a reputable news sources.

There have been many doing the rounds in the recent wave of xenophobia. Some videos are old and taken out of context, while some are from incidents abroard. You can also use AfricaCheck to sort fact from fiction.

Educate yourself

Read up about the complexities of xenophobia, inequalities, service-delivery and politics. For example, ee articles by the Wits University's African Centre for Migration, the Scalabrini Centre and the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa.

Report Xenophobic incidents to Xenowatch and the relevant authorities

Nationwide Emergency Response - 10111
Cell phone emergency - 112
Ambulance response - 10177

Also report to XenoWatch: Reports of past, current or potential xenophobic incidents can be sent through four methods. All reports should include the location, time, and description of the incident:
- FREE SMS to 44705
- E-mail to report@xenowatch.ac.za
- Xenowatch mobile app
- WhatsApp/Call: +27 (0) 60 794 9882