There are fears that a new wave of xenophobia is building in South Africa.
Driving it as movement called Dudula, which is the Zulu word for drive-back.
Current hot spots are Alexandra township, were people in poverty live in sight of the salubrious business and residential area of Sandton, and in Soweto.
The two areas lie respectively north and west of Johannesburg which houses nearly a quarter of South Africa’s 60 million people.
In Alexandra, foreign businesses are being targeted for allegedly depriving the income of the increasing number of South Africans driven back into poverty by the COVID resstrictions.
Dudula is also calling for foreigners to be evicted from government subsidized housing that should be reserved for needy locals.
In Soweto, Dudula is taking aim at foreigners allegedly involved in organised crime plaguing South African residents.
Xenophobia is particularly embarrassing to the African National Congress-led government because of support its exiles and liberation fighters received abroad during the struggle against apartheid.
It refused to acknowledge that the 2008 attacks that left 67 foreigners dead was xenopophoba, insisting that it was opportunistic criminality.
In 2019 it launched the National Action Plan Combatting Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia And Related Intolerance.
At last weekend’s imbizo (Cabinet retreat) Labour Minister Thulas Nxesi said government would not allow South Africans to treat foreigners like animals because they too have rights.
He rounded on the hard left Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema for conducting a surprise “inspection”of Johannesburg restaurants earlier this year to count the number of foreign employees in its service.
“It cannot be allowed because they are disrupting production in those particular workplaces,”Nxesi said.
“We also do not agree with the Dudula approach because it creates confusion and can lead to violence.
“We cannot allow violence and that is why we will be harsh. The police will be there to deal with that.”
A Human Rights Watch report says law enforcement authorities have reacted with indifference and and have offered inadequate remedies to cases of xenophobia.
South African law restricts access of asylum seekers to the proper authorities and there is a huge backlog in processing claims and appeals.
Government and law enforcement officials join in the harassment and attacks on foreigners.
The human rights watchdog received reports of police selling back to foreign business good seized in so-called counterfeit raids.
The African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights wrote to President Cyril Ramaphosa shortly after he assumed the rotating chairmanship of the African Union expressing concern about the vulnerability of refugees and asylum seekers under South Africa’s COVID regulations and asked him to ensure they had access to basic services.
COVID relief in South Africa overlooks asylum seekers and refugees.