Following the most recent wave of violence targeted at foreign nationals in the country, CapeTalk and 702’s Redi Tlhabi explored the reintegration of foreign nationals into South African communities.
The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation’s (IJR) Stanley Henkeman proposes that there need to be nation-wide mediation that is facilitated by government and includes members of civil society and representatives for foreign nationals.
According to Henkeman, there is a misconception that when the displaced foreign nationals are sent back into their communities, everything will sort itself out.
Facilitating ongoing conversations
Henkeman, who played a role in mediating in Western Cape's communities after the local attacks in 2008, says that the mediation process was not perfect, but that work was done and that indicates the potential to create a dialogue between the communities and the foreign nationals.
Our job was to do a lot of shuttle diplomacy between local communities and the people displaced in the various camps. This started conversations, with local Councillors, community organisations, leadership, youth, churches and so forth, to understand what it is that creates this kind of tension. I think it is important to understand the concerns of the community. This mediation happened over a period of 6 months.
He suggests that the idea of re-integration after the xenophobic attacks is, in itself, problematic because the targeted violence is an indication that foreign nationals were never sufficiently integrated into local communities to begin with.
Listen to the full conversation on the Redi Tlhabi Show: