As South Africans prepare to vote in parliamentary and presidential elections on Wednesday, immigration has been a hot topic throughout the campaign.
The issue is a sensitive one in a country regularly hit by waves of xenophobic violence. Attacks on working immigrants reflect frustration over growing unemployment in South Africa, 25 years after Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress first swept to power at the end of white minority rule.
The country has been dogged by weak growth and has some of the worst unemployment levels among major emerging market economies; half of young black South Africans are jobless. Without a census, it is unknown how many foreigners reside in South Africa, but immigration has become a campaign issue for all the parties running in Wednesday’s polls while migrant associations have appealed to authorities to stop stigmatising them.