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Kenyans Living and Studying in South Africa Talk about Xenophobic Attacks on Foreigners


 Amid the Xenophobic attack in south Africa, we resolved to talk to one of the Kenyans  from Nandi County, studying in one of the Universities in South Africa, Patricia Mollyne Mataga

When did you leave Kenya for South Africa to study?
I actually left Kenya in July 2012
 When are you graduating?
I will graduate in December 2017 sincei joined the university in August 2013
Which region in South Africa do you reside?
I stay in Pretoria East, Gauteng Province
Have you personally experienced xenophobia or other forms of discrimination in South Africa? What was your experience?
Yes, I have experienced Xenophobia, not now though. I can vividly remember it was a Tuesday, way back in July 2013 and I was supposed to register for my course. I had never used taxes (kind of Matatu), I only had tickets for Gautrain bus but since i was getting late i couldn’t wait for it so i decided to take the tax. I paid the driver, there is no conductor here, and sat. On the way I asked the person i was sitting next to where Arcadia is,she didn’t seem to know, so I started looking outside just incase i see a sign or something that can lead me there . I didn’t see anything and so I decided to ask the driver, and he was busy replying in Zulu, when i told him,i don’t understand his language he became so Angry, i didn’t know why, then he asked,where i was from, and I said Kenya confidently, Holy God,i wish i never replied, he poured all kind of abuses on me, how we people have decided to leave our country and fill theirs, the worst thing he actually told me to alight, at this place I didn’t know. I did alight and i was even scared to ask anyone, i just called my aunt and she came for my rescue.
You were once a victim of racism in South Africa, how did you handle the issue, putting in mind it was your first time in a foreign country. Racism is bad, it’s horrible, at first i used to cry, but after sometime, i told myself “Patricia it’s a high time you showed your Kenyan spirit or else the fees your family is paying will go to waste.” How i did it I don’t know, how i overcame is still amystery, you know there is that point in your life you have to say Enough is enough, i think i arrived at that point and i was not going to tolerate anything less than what I should get.I should i can Say God gave me the Wisdom and helped me deal with it.
How has the recent xenophobic attacks affected your area of residence?
I haven’t heard of any attacks here in Pretoria, we are still safe.
What are some of the thoughts of people you interact with on xenophobia?
I have talked to several people, some justify Xenophobia and other people think it’s wrong. But one thing i can tell you for sure is; economic problems can be very frustrating and dangerous.Over time, economic problems can destabilize the social structure.pent up feelings and frustrations can be vented in an insane adrenaline rush that will leave people wondering how
According to statistics, South Africa suffers drastic unemployment rate which is reportedly getting worse. What is the current percentage of employed natives versus immigrants?
South Africa’s unemployment rate is 24%, i can’t really tell the number of foreigner employed but the fact is it doesn’t beat the number of South Africans employed.
Have there been strong sentiments about the current unemployment rate among the natives? They do believe foreigners are taking their jobs, that’s why they are unemployed on the other side it’s said that foreigners take jobs at a lower wage and this make them not to be employed since they demand a slightly high wage.
It is reported that immigrants are living better lives than natives, and that immigrant business people do not offer employment to the latter, could this be the reason behind the recent xenophobic attacks?       Not all immigrants are living posh lives, others are really hustling just like any other person, and others still face challenges just like them.Those living well, work hard for it.
What is the ratio of businesses owned by ‘foreigners’ to those owned by nationals?
I can’t say I can come up with a certain ratio, but I can tell you there are several shops owned by foreigners here, i think I should research on that.
In 2008, similar attacks were experienced in South Africa, in which over 100 people were killed. What effective steps did the South African government take to control the situation and ensure it does not recur?
I wouldn’t know the step they took but All i can say is,its difficult to pinpoint one particular incident as triggering the xenophobic violence we see playing out in south Africa. I believe that it is an accumulation of socio-economic frustrations, ignorance and misunderstanding of why refugees and other foreigners are in South Africa.
The government has been accused of poor governance and tolerance of xenophobic attitude; do you think it is practically capable of tackling xenophobia?
To some extent it can, they have a role to play in this, they have power as much as it might need a helping hand from others, and I think the government should first counter the perceptios that contribute to xenophobia and violence, and the scape-goating of foreigners for the failure in basic service delivery and inclusive development.
The government should also address the rights of foreigners within the country.
What actions has the government taken so far against the recent xenophobic attacks?
Until now I have heard President saying its not easy.They have just been saying South Africans should calm down.
What attitude and opinion do native South Africans hold towards their government?
During the apartheid era black South Africans were resourced to fight one another, which led to brutal killings on both sides. In this effect, could it be that civil disobedience has carried over to the democratic era?
Honestly I won’t say anything regarding this.
As a student in South Africa, what are some of the steps students have taken in effect of the recent chaos? What is the general attitude of native students towards their foreign counterparts?
So far I haven’t seen students here in Pretoria say or do anything.But we foreign students are just scared. In my class on Tuesday, the South African students were hagging us non South African Students saying we are One, i think that is a good step.
What are some of the solutions you would offer South Africa to effectively put an end to xenophobia in the country?
One, creating an environment whereby everyone enjoys his/her rights equally and without discrimination abd where everyone enjoys the benefit of economic development.
Two, dispelling false notions by nationals that foreigners are the reason why Social services are not delivered and that the foreign nationals are responsible for increased unemployment.
Three, developing policy that balances the states legitimate power to regulate its borders with the rights of individuals regardless of their status once in the country.
Last but not least, regulating employment practices that result in foreigners accepting jobs at lower wages, thus undercutting the minimum wage and expectations of unionised Labour.

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