Questions Over ‘Foreign Dominated’ Areas Come after Chaos in Hillbrow

By Neo Sithole

On Sunday Hillbrow was pandemonium after Metro Police officer raided the inner-city region for counterfeit goods from vendors and stalls. 

Gauteng police spokesperson Brigadier Mathapelo Peters said officers from the SA Police Service (SAPS) and Johannesburg metro police department (JMPD) and brand owners were confiscating counterfeit goods at the Madiba Building on the corner of Jeppe and Von Wielligh streets in a joint operation when they were attacked by disgruntled hawkers

Rioters rained a hail of rocks and other objects at the police officers who attempted to disperse the crowd with rubber bullets as the raid quickly turned into a running battle between the police and the crowd of rioters that was expanding rapidly. 

While police vehicles and city infrastructure have sustained heavy damage at the hands of the rioters there have been no reports of injuries to law enforcement.

However, after CCTV footage depicting scenes of blocked roads, rushing groups and streets on fire flooded social media the widespread condemnation of violence in the area took a xenophobic scene. 

Twitter account @crimeairnetwork uploaded the video caption “FOREIGNERS WITH NO RESPECT FOR LAW AUTHORITIES: HILLBROW. JHB. GP” fueling the fire. 

Xenophobic comments about the nature of foreign nationals in South Africa, along with their perceived impacts and stereotyped nature have led to questions over the how curtained areas like Hillbrow, and Yeoville in Johannesburg and Sunnyside in Pretoria have come to be known as ‘foreign dominated’ with calls of mass deportation like done by Ghana in February while others questioning the effectiveness of the state and law enforcement agencies in dealing with crimes linked to foreign nationals.

The situation in Hillbrow has since died down however conversations around the legitimacy of foreign nationals in South Africa and the leeway seemingly provided to them by the state stands indicative of how xenophobia is used as scapegoat by citizens for a structural incapacity of the government to not only actively rectify a ‘porous’ border but also to provide adequate services to all regions irrespective of income and dominant population.


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