South Africa: In Sickness and in Health - Why the Minister of Home Affairs Has a Duty of Care to Tackle Endemic Anti-Foreigner Sentiment


Many of South Africa's government officials have contracted a dangerous, highly contagious and apparently incurable disease. Symptoms include espousing anti-foreigner sentiments and scapegoating non-nationals for failures of the state, while simultaneously denying that xenophobia exists in the country.

The disease symptoms are increasingly common and, for the most part, go untreated. The malady has become endemic, spreading within government structures and across the South African public. We urgently need to understand and address the causes of infection, develop preventative measures and find ways to fight the sickness.

With the appointment of a medical doctor - Dr Aaron Motsoaledi - as a minister in the Department of Home Affairs earlier in 2019, there was a reason to hope he would take on a healing role, curing conditions that allow anti-foreigner rhetoric to flourish within the department.

Medical doctors take the Hippocratic oath, requiring them to put the safety and welfare of all persons entrusted to their care first, not allowing religion, nationality, race, politics or social standing to influence their duty of care - principles also enshrined in the South African Constitution and its Bill of Rights.

Yet Motsoaledi is letting us down. He is failing in his duty of care;...

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