South Africa: Civil Society Holds Emergency Meeting to Discuss How to Stop the Xenophobia


It was a civil society that quickly mobilised and marched in 2015 showing the real face of South African solidarity with our brothers and sisters from across Africa. It seems it will have to be civil society again.

On Wednesday afternoon, in a courtyard of the old Johannesburg prison, in the shadow of the Constitutional Court, within sight of a bust of Mahatma Ghandi, civil society gathered at short notice to discuss how to counter the growing xenophobia crisis and show the humane side of South Africa.

The meeting had been convened at short notice by Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR). The venue was changed twice to accommodate the numbers and it was clear that civil society organisations are feeling this pain, because they came in droves. There were representatives of churches, trade unions, women's organisations, human rights organisations, advice offices, artists, educators and academics. They were joined by migrants and refugees from Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and other parts of Africa.

Meetings of civil society are often laborious affairs, full of wind and waffle. This one was about action. Tens of people put up their hands to speak and each time the chairperson quickly weighed...

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