The Nature of South Africa's Legal Obligations to Combat Xenophobia

"In March 2008, a wave of xenophobic violence swept across many parts of South Africa, including Tshwane. This study aims to provide an analysis of the potential role that law, and particularly human rights law, may play in combatting such violence and its root causes. The study considers the issue from a multidisciplinary perspective, by informing itself of the views of both nationals and non-nationals on pertinent issues. To this end, in-depth interviews have been conducted and are reflected here. This presents a tentative step towards socio-legal analysis, and is part of the Centre’s broadening of its research focus from strictly legal to more multi-disciplinary. Against this background, an analysis is made of South Africa’s legal obligations,deriving from its Constitution as well as United Nations and African Union treaties to which it is a state party. The study uses the term ‘foreign nationals’ to broadly include all non-South African residents within South Africa. Within this circle, the study identifies documented foreign nationals as those who have been accorded refugee status or who are recognised as asylum seekers, in possession of official documents testifying to this fact. These categories of persons are legally within South Africa. Undocumented foreign nationals, also often referred to as illegal immigrants, are those residing in the country without official permission."