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Notes from South Africa - Tolu Pt. 2

Tolu with some South African locals

Rutgers Graduate School-Newark
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Notes from South Africa - Tolu Pt.2


After meeting members of Refugee Legal and Advocacy Centre, Juma Ndikumana, Janvier Impezagire and Aleck Kuhudzai (RLAC Co-founder), I became aware that focusing my research on the media’s representation of refugees and foreign nationals during periods of xenophobic violence in South Africa was a much deeper and more complex topic than anticipated.  My first research breakthrough came after the dismantling of one of the main underpinnings of my main research question: the assumption that all xenophobic attacks in South Africa were covered by local and/or national media newsprint sources. False. 


In the photo attached,  I am visiting a re-erected “spaza” shop in Mpunzi Crescent in Lower Crossroads  (a densely populated township located on the Cape Flats) with RLAC. The Cape Flats area, located to the southeast of the central business district of Cape Town, is where non-white residents were forced to relocate as a result of apartheid-era racial segregation policies (Group Areas Act of 1950).  In May 2015, widespread violence broke out between residents living in Lower Crossroads and an adjacent informal settlement, Marikana --  leaving dozens of homes and businesses looted, burned, and destroyed – with a disproportionate amount being shops and homes operated or owned by foreign nationals. The site below shows the remnants of a building that was destroyed in Mpunzi Crescent; it was once home to over a dozen Burundian refugees who, despite daily attacks and aggressions, are still in the Cape Flats area struggling to rebuild their businesses, their homes, and their lives following the disastrous outbreaks of violence in the only areas of town where they can afford to settle.

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