The New South was built on a culture of inclusiveness, tolerance and human rights, embodied in its 1996 Constitution. However recent studies show that South African citizens exhibit high levels of xenophobia towards fellow Africans which in May 2008 culminated in the death of 62 people, 22 of whom were South Africans. Xenophobia is more complex than just the irrational fear of foreigners. It is about the interplay of relationships between the state and its citizens; citizens and foreigners; and foreigners and the state. For the state this involves balancing its „realist‟ obligations to protect the national interests of its citizens with its international obligations to protect foreigners within its borders. It is about the perception of immigrants as threats to the socio-economic wellbeing of the local population. Furthermore, it also involves assessing the role of immigrants themselves and how their actions can exacerbate negative sentiments. This thesis therefore argues that xenophobic sentiment is about the politics of access; a struggle for political, social and economic entitlements, and investigates how immigrants in South Africa are negotiating their survival. In doing so, the thesis locates possibilities for change within the political system of South Africa itself
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