In August 2018, the U.S. Consular General approached ALPS to host a workshop that would bring together American and South African representatives to share different perspectives, experiences, and approaches to combatting religious intolerance, xenophobia, and hate crimes. The organisations at the workshop provided a large and varied knowledge base about discrimination in all its forms.
During the workshop, it became clear that the histories of both South Africa and the U.S. offer valuable lessons for tackling hate crimes and religious discrimination. At the end of the workshop, attendees discussed future steps to prevent hate crimes in South Africa and identified lessons learned from both countries.
Workshop: Protecting Individuals and Communities in a Pluralistic Society
In September 2018, the U.S. Consular General of Cape Town and ALPS Resilience co-hosted a workshop on religious freedom, religious intolerance, xenophobia, and social cohesion. The workshop was sponsored by the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL). Participants included a U.S. delegation from the Departments of State, Justice, and Homeland Security. South African government officials were also in attendance, including Hon John Jeffery, MP, Deputy Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development.
In 2008, violent attacks by South Africans against foreign nationals saw an extreme spike. Since then, many migrants, refugees and asylum-seekers in South Africa, continue to live in fear of xenophobic violence. According to the Hate Crimes Working Group, crimes against religious minorities, migrants and refugees have not been taken seriously enough by authorities. South African authoritative bodies set up to enforce protective laws against discrimination and hate crimes are either non-existent or under-resourced. Moreover, the paucity of data and analysis regarding hate crimes and discrimination in South Africa makes it difficult to develop effective responses to “prevent, predict, and protect”.
Coalition-building within South African civil society has assisted the government to develop responses to hate crimes through the Hate Crimes Bill; however, there are delays in its passage. Without a clear policy from Government, non-governmental organisations and civil society must step up their involvement in shaping the response to hate crimes, xenophobia, and religious intolerance in South Africa.