Key Points:

  • South Africa, like many developed and some developing countries, faces difficult policy challenges arising from immigration.
  • Immigration issues are hard to tackle because they spread across many areas of public policy, and affect many sensitive interests. In South Africa, two factors help to complicate the issues and make credible, sustainable policies of migration management more difficult to achieve.
  • The first is the widespread belief that South Africa is being swamped by (mostly illegal) immigrants, largely from neighbouring states.
  • The second factor is the hostility to foreigners in South Africa that occasionally manifests itself in outbreaks of social violence usually attributed to xenophobia.
  • The central objectives of the Witbank case study were to investigate the nature and extent of immigration to the town, the roles of immigrants in the local economy, and the nature and prevalence of xenophobic attitudes among Witbank residents towards those immigrants. The report begins with a brief description of Witbank, followed by the main findings. It concludes with some reflections on and questions arising from the findings.

Press release: Immigrants in South Africa – Perceptions and reality in Witbank

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