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Denial creates cycle of violence

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There is common agreement that the violence was fuelled by a fight over resources and the state of the economy.

Picture: Timothy Bernard/AfricanNewsAgency(ANA)

The xenophobic violence that held South Africa in its vice-like grip has come full circle after Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Mozambique announced that they would repatriate their citizens as attacks on foreigners continue.

For those who stereotype foreigners as criminals, many of those who are leaving the country have been here legally, have families or are married to South Africans.

The government prefers to refer to the violence as acts of criminality and not xenophobia, the awful scenes that played out in Gauteng and Tshwane have driven a wedge between South Africa and its African neighbours.

There is common agreement that the violence was fuelled by a fight over resources and the state of the economy.

South Africa cannot operate in isolation, and any belief that the economy will improve by excluding the rest of the continent is short-sighted. The violence is driven by desperation, by stereotyping and hatred.

Foreigners are easy targets, but the underlying current of hopelessness means that conditions will remain rife for desperation to be converted into acts of violence.

Simply denying that xenophobia was at least partially behind the violence will only leave room for the hopelessness to manifest itself into violence in the future.