Photography by:
  • Simphiwe Phumo & Amanda van der Walt

Xenophobia research (2011)

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In 2009, GCRO and Strategy & Tactics, supported by The Atlantic Philanthropies, jointly commissioned a national study of civil society responses to the xenophobic violence of 2008. They worked with partners from UKZN, UWC and UJ. The study intended to feed policy-oriented recommendations back to civil society regarding both xenophobia and the lessons needing to be learned about strengthening civil society.

More information is available from the xenophobia project blog.

A comprehensive report on the research was released in mid-2010 (see below). Following this selected pieces of the research were recrafted for a special edition of the journal Politikon: the South African Journal of Political Studies. David Everatt was editor of the special edition with contributors such as Annsilla Nyar, Matthew Smith, Luke Sinwell, Patrick Bond, Mazibuko Jara and Sally Peberdy. The special edition was released in the first quarter of 2011.

The 500-page report, coordinated by Strategy & Tactics, was written by some of South Africa's leading social and political scientists as well as civil society activists. The report analyses the conditions that allowed xenophobic violence to erupt in South Africa in May 2008, leaving 62 people dead. But its real focus is on civil society organisations, which played a key role in mitigating the worst of the violence and assisting victims, while the state dithered.

The report includes comparative chapters looking at the post-election violence in Kenya and the genocide in the Great Lakes region, and provides the first comprehensive and progressive review of civil society in South Africa for many years.

The study offers a host of recommendations for civil society organisations, both in regard to migrants, refugees and asylum seekers - a chapter specifically written by migrant civil society organisations operating within South Africa is included. The study also comments more generally on what is needed to maintain the strength, visibility and coherence that this critical sector displayed in the transition to democracy, and again in responding to xenophobic violence.

The full report can be downloaded below or ordered on CD ROM (free of charge) by clicking on the following order form (email:


Everatt, D. (2010) South African civil society and xenophobia. The Atlantic Philanthropies.

Last updated 18 October 2017.


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