The report from the inquiry the government commissioned to investigate the xenophobic attacks in the country says the media are the instigators of the attacks.
The report which was recently released highlighted that the dissemination of false information on social media along with sensational newspaper headlines fueled the xenophobic attacks that bedeviled South Africa the previous year.
As related, “the failure of media houses to contextualize the violent occurrences sent shock waves across the country and around the world.” And on the other hand, “the spreading of misinformation on social media platforms contributed to widespread panic at the height of the attacks…” stated the report.
It further disclosed that the 2015 xenophobic crisis is linked to that of 2008 where 62 lives were lost. It identified that “the underlying socioeconomic challenges laid the foundation for increased competition for employment, basic social services, and business opportunities within and between various communities.”
With that, it pointed out that these underlying factors are yet to be resolved. Thus, it concluded with a warning stating that “there is strong possibility of recurrence”.
You’ll recall that the attacks started after King Goodwill Zwelethini who was speaking at a rally in Pongola, northern Kwazulu-Natal, reportedly said that foreigners are negatively influencing South Africa. “We urge all foreigners to pack their bags and leave,” the king allegedly said.
Meanwhile the special unit created by the KwaZulu-Natal government to investigate the cause of the xenophobic attacks said King Goodwill Zwelithini refused to cooperate with them in their inquiry.
The unit however, found that “inflammatory public statements by individuals in leadership positions” engineered the attacks.
They recommended that “leaders exercise greater care with their public remarks. Leaders must consider the potential ramifications, both intended and unintended, of statements that are provocative, stereotypical and may be perceived as harmful by any group of persons or individuals. Responsible leaders can play positive and proactive roles in preventing and mitigating tensions within their communities.”