BBC BLOGS - Andrew Harding on Africa
« Previous | Main | Next »

Rumours, threats and the South African media

Andrew Harding | 16:43 UK time, Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Much discussion here in South Africa right now about how the local media should handle the issue of xenophobia.

For many months now, rumours and threats have been circulating about a possible outbreak of violence against immigrant workers in South Africa immediately after the World Cup.


Given the horrific clashes in 2008, it's no surprise that a lot of Zimbabweans, Malawians and others here are extremely worried at the moment. Idle threats? Perhaps, but there have been some incidents already
and there's no mistaking the fear in the voices of several people I've spoken to in the last couple of days.

The authorities initially seemed keen to deny there was even an issue to discuss - and that all those suddenly leaving the country were simply migrant workers. But now they are becoming a lot more proactive.

It's a sensitive subject for journalists to cover.

There's a danger that we become part of the problem - whipping up hysteria, spreading rumours, and either fuelling violence or doing the work of those who simply want foreigners out of their communities. You'd be surprised how quickly a camera crew can become a magnet, or catalyst, for trouble - I've seen it several times myself.

But there's also as this commentator argues a danger in staying silent.

Personally I think the media here have got it just about right - raising questions, nudging the authorities to take preventative measures, and hopefully helping to make sure that South Africa's well-earned World Cup honeymoon does not end too abruptly.


or register to comment.

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.