Original Articles

African Migrants' Experiences of Xenophobic Violence in South Africa: A Relational Approach

Published in: Journal of Psychology in Africa
Volume 23, issue 3, 2013 , pages: 501–505
DOI: 10.1080/14330237.2013.10820658
Author(s): Shingairai ChigezaNorth-West University,, Alda De WetUniversity of Limpopo,, Vera RoosNorth-West University,, Charl VorsterNorth-West University,


This study explores the experiences of African migrants in relation to South African citizens in the course of xenophobic violence in South Africa. In a secondary data analysis of a larger research project, 44 migrants (both men and women with ages ranging from 18 to 50 years) were purposively selected data obtained through focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews were analysed thematically. The relational experiences between the African migrants and the black South African citizens occurred in an interpersonal context, embedded in a historical pattern of racial prejudice, division and separation. The relational approach analyses migrant-citizen interactions on the intrapersonal, interpersonal and intergroup level. Relationships are continuously self-organised in the course of human interaction. The focus (or punctuation) of the discussion should therefore be stated clearly. African Migrants expressed an intense emotional impact on the intrapersonal level following their interactions with South African citizens. South African citizens displayed dominant in-group behaviour by ignoring and excluding migrants and by treating them differently. Citizens also regarded migrants as threats. The findings have serious implications for South Africa's diverse racial groups, who interact daily in different interpersonal contexts.

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