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South African newspaper stops using 'xenophobic' language

By Adriana Stuijt     Dec 3, 2008 in World
JOHANNESBURG -- The Daily Sun, with nearly 4-million readers the biggest daily newspaper in South Africa, has promised to stop using terms such as 'aliens and evil aliens' when reporting about foreigners.
Although the Daily Sun is the most-read newspaper among working class and well-educated urban blacks alike, it does not operate any news services online.
The country's media ombudsman - which is only an advisory body -- rapped the Daily Sun over the fingers for its 'xenophobic reporting' - noting in a report on November 26 that they hold the news media such as the Daily Sun 'jointly responsible' for the ethnic-cleansing campaigns which saw many thousands of foreign African migrants chased from townships from May this year and some 22 killed.
The Media Monitoring group and the Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa lodged a formal complaint against the Daily Sun with the SA media ombudsman - which is only an advisory body and has no legal authority.
The ombudsman agreed with the two organisations' complaints that the Daily Sun 's reporting on foreign Africans and its constant use of 'alien and evil alien' had contributed greatly to the climate of a hatred of strangers' in which the ethnic-cleansing campaign could take place.
However - it's not only the news media which engage in 'xenophobic' reporting. This week in the Eastern Cape province - where cholera has been endemic since the late 1970s -- local authorities were blaming one Ethiopian refugee, who had arrived in East London via Zimbabwe, for 'bringing cholera into the province.'
The health authorities of the province have placed the man in isolation 'to prevent an outbreak of the disease', they said. Said spokesman Sizwe Kupelo: "The Ethiopian arrived on Sunday and fell ill on Monday. Two other people he was staying with also have been tested. "
Local authorities report countrywide that there also again is growing resentment over the huge numbers of Zimbabweans that now cross the border each day for free food and water and medical care.
Indeed, the ombudsman also said in his summary, 'it was the economic downturn and high unemployment levels which led to the 'xenophobic outbursts'.
He pointed out that 'many South Africans resented the foreign migrants, seeing them as competitors for jobs, food and housing. "But, he pointed out, 'this viewpoint was strengthened by the way in which the SA news media, and especially the Daily Sun, had described foreigners:'
The SA news media uses a 'wide range of stereotyping' when describing foreigners, the ombudsman noted.
'They would be 'illegal, criminal, steal jobs from South Africans, and carry diseases such as HIV.
Mozambicans were 'car thieves', Nigerians 'drug-smugglers'...
More about Xenophobia ethnic cleansing, Hate speech, Using alien evil
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