How you can use your cellphone to help tackle xenophobia

How you can use your cellphone to help tackle xenophobia

Human rights watch organization‚ Xenowatch‚ is enlisting the aid of mobile technology to give hope to victims and potential victims‚ of xenophobia in South Africa.

Xenowatch‚ which was launched at the University of the Witwatersrand in Braamfontein on Wednesday‚ is urging victims of xenophobic attacks to use an SMS line to get help quickly.

“These days you rarely hear about service a delivery protest… without an attack on foreign nationals or their businesses‚” said Jean Pierre Misago a researcher at the Wits.

He said a major problem in dealing with the scourge was that there was no database of organizations that monitor these incidents to assist government in solving cases.

“In additional additon to the lack of political will… our interventions are not really evidence-based. They are not formed by clear understanding of the drivers of the violence and sometimes we address the wrong problems‚ we approach wrong actors because we don’t have the correct information of what’s going on‚” Misago said.

Xenowatch plans to dispatch on-field demonstrators to crisis-hit areas. It will also provide information‚ including statitics‚ pictures‚ videos and witnesses to state entities to help solve hate crimes and related matters.

According to research done by the organization‚ since 2008 xenophobic attacks have left almost 350 people dead‚ over 100 000 displaced and millions of rands in property and investment destroyed.

The organization’s Tefo Mohapi said it was not trying to replace the work of the police‚ but to gather data to help them‚ other organs of the state and victims of xenophobic violence.

“We work with our partners to relay the reports and see what we can do to help the victims. Also we to try and analyse and see what the patterns are‚” Mohapi said.

This year alone‚ over 1000 foreign-run shops have been looted. The hardest hit area was Tshwane during the protests against the appointed of mayoral candidate Thoko Didiza ahead of the local government elections.