South Africa. In January, the town of Soweto outside
Johannesburg was shaken by xenophobic riots that claimed at
least six people's lives and led to approximately 180 people
being arrested by police. Hundreds of foreigners fled the
area. The violence was triggered since teenagers tried to
rob a store and the foreign owner shot one of them to death.
The riots went on for a week and over 100 stores owned by
foreigners in poor suburbs with high unemployment were
The police were criticized for late intervention, and
President Jacob Zuma was accused of not quickly and clearly
enough to distance himself from the violence and xenophobia.
His government proposed legislation that deprives foreigners
of the right to own land in South Africa.
COUNTRYAAH, Zulukungen Goodwill Zwelithini held a speech in April
criticizing foreigners, blaming them for growing crime and
urging them to pack and return to their home countries. Many
believed that this triggered the new riots, which then
flared up when immigrants were attacked in Durban,
Johannesburg and other cities. At least seven people were
killed and more than 5,000 became homeless in new looting.
According to the UN Refugee Commission, most affected
refugees and asylum seekers left their home countries
because of war and persecution.
President Zuma canceled a visit abroad to deal with the
crisis. Perpetrators of the violence were arrested and
prosecuted. The army was ordered to Johannesburg suburb
Alexandra, where a Mozambican was stabbed to death. Police
and military were then deployed to track illegal immigrants.
In a few months, around 10,000 people were arrested for
various crimes, and over 15,000 paperless immigrants were
rejected. According to the authorities, many voluntarily
chose to be sent home. Operation Fiela received criticism as
The attacks on foreigners in South Africa led to
counter-attacks in the migrants' home countries in Africa.
In Mozambique, a border crossing was blocked and stones were
thrown at South African cars. South African workers were
evacuated for security reasons. South African companies were
threatened in Nigeria with closure, and protests were held
at South African embassies in a number of countries.
President Zuma was again challenged by his harshest
critic, Julius Malema, who was excluded from the ANC
(African National Congress) and founded the left-wing party
EFF (Economic Freedom Fighters). In Parliament, Zuma's
speech to the nation was interrupted by Malema, who demanded
notice when Zuma would repay the tax money used for a
contentious and expensive renovation of the private home.
Malema and his party mates were swept away.
Harsh protests came from the opposition when the
government announced in June that the state had no recourse
to Zuma for the renovation of his luxury estate in
KwaZulu-Natal. The police minister's decision went against
the Ombudsman, who pointed out illegality and asked Zuma to
reimburse part of the cost.
In August, a corruption indictment was filed against
Malema on the grounds that the trial was postponed for too
long, for three years. Malema had been charged with fraud,
money laundering and extortion. The decision was a victory
for Malema in the battle against President Zuma.
During the year, the Democratic Alliance (DA) elected a
new leader, 34-year-old Mmusi Maimane, who thus became the
party's first colored leader.
According to an investigation by the government, there
were shortcomings in the police force behind 34 striking
miners killed in Marikana in 2012. It was the worst police
violence in the country since the apartheid era. The
investigators, who were appointed by the president,
acquitted the government of responsibility, but blame was
placed on the mining company and on the trade unions'
handling of the conflict.
The release of the government upset the victims'
relatives and their lawyers who had accused Cyril Ramaphosa,
vice president and leader of the ANC. Ramaphosa sat on the
board of the mining company in 2012 and was alleged to have
used his influence to push forward a strike from the police.
However, according to investigators, there was no evidence
that his intervention had affected the behavior of the
police. As a result of the report, the country's police
chief was suspended while her role in the shooting deaths
The government's decision to raise tuition fees at state
universities in October led to major student protests that
many poor, black students would not be able to afford to
continue their studies. Most of the protests were peaceful,
but in Cape Town the police proceeded hard on students
outside Parliament as well as in Pretoria outside the
presidential office. The pressure from the students drove
President Zuma to promise unchanged tuition fees for 2016.
In Johannesburg, student demonstrations continued with
demands for free education.
Thousands of protesters demanded President Zuma's
resignation in December, after he kicked off the country's
respected finance minister and caused turbulence in the