#SAMediaMustFall: The Xenophobic truth behind the tag

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The xenophobic sentiments associated with #SAMediaMustFall and its link to a network
of xenophobic accounts rallied behind the anonymous @Lerato_Pillay.

 

By Lerato Botha

This article is exclusive to the Online Edition 9 of VARSITY News.

 

Xenophobia and Afrophobia are concepts that South Africans have become all too familiar with over the years. Many citizens have argued the want for the prioritisation of South African citizens in all facets, stemming both economically and socially, but some have gone even further, growing to perpetuate hate and blame for our country’s struggles and downfalls onto African foreign nationals in a generalised manner. Some have expressed this contempt most especially on Twitter, through use of hashtags such as #NigeriansMustGo and #VoetsekForeignersGoHome along with many more. #SAMediaMustFall is among the most recent of these and is aimed towards South African news outlets. Under the hashtag, Twitter users have expressed their dissatisfaction with South African media and the alleged protection of foreigners in the news.

 

 

The #SAMediaMustFall campaign accompanied by #PutSouthAfricansFirst have been used to express how the media, according to certain accounts, have turned a blind eye on the so-called damage that immigrants impose onto the country as a whole and onto South Africans’ job security. They claim that media outlets are protecting foreigners by avoiding reporting on these issues and that they are attempting to bury the voices of those who speak out against them. Most of these accounts have rallied behind the anonymous, notoriously xenophobic account of @Lerato_Pillay, formerly going under @uLerato_Pillay before the account was removed from the site. Thi account has often been the spearhead promoter of these anti-immigrant messages. The previous account @uLerato_Pillay has been linked to the South African First (SAF) political party which is said to “promote the closing of South Africa’s borders and removal of foreign nationals from the country”, according to Tessa Knight and Jean le Roux of ‘Daily Maverick’. An investigation made by the DFRLabs links the account to another, @SfisoGwala_SA who is apparently affiliated with the SAF.

 

 

 

Given the xenophobic history of the account and its affiliates, a seemingly simple hashtag finds its links to xenophobic and afrophobic sentiments. Under #SAMediaMustFall, Twitter users have criminalised foreigners and expressed that South African media has put these foreign nationals above South Africans in their representation in the media. Twitter users have also expressed their belief that South Africa and its media outlets are under the control of African foreign nationals. According to them, South African media has turned a blind eye to immigrants which they label as criminals, and reporters are supposedly puppets that do not speak on the criminal truths of these immigrants. These statements present undertones of xenophobia and afrophobia that bring to light the complications of hashtags like #PutSouthAfricansFirst and #SAMediaMustFall, as although they do not seem it, they are often accommodated by highly xenophobic sentiments.

 

 

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