About Xenowatch

Developed by the African Centre for Migration & Society (ACMS) at the University of Witwatersrand, Xenowatch is an open source system for information collection, visualization and interactive mapping that allows crowdsourcing of information and data on xenophobic discrimination incidents in South Africa using the following reporting methods: Email, WhatsApp and Call. Xenowatch tracks, verifies, records and analyzes all forms of xenophobic discrimination as well as responses or interventions by all relevant stakeholders including government and civil society. It serves as an early warning system that notifies authorities and civil society about threats and violence and calls for immediate and appropriate response. Xenowatch data is analyzed to identify violence causal factors and characteristics of communities at risk in ways that can inform early warning and more effective conflict prevention/resolution interventions.

Xenophobic Discrimination

Xenowatch aims to track all forms of xenophobic discrimination and attacks on people and property as well government and civil society responses to such incidents. For our purposes, Xenophobia is the fear or hatred of others based on ethnic, national, or racial background. It is a form of discrimination that manifests itself in violent and nonviolent ways against people from all backgrounds. South African citizens, immigrants, and refugees are all potential victims. This behavior may be aimed at immigrants or refugees, but it may also target South Africans from other villages, ethnic groups, religions, or language groups. Even if such incidents intersect with other forms of crime (such as assaults, looting or violent protests); we would like to hear about them.

Xenowatch Aims and Objectives

There is an acute need to develop effective tools for combating xenophobic discrimination and promoting social cohesion in South Africa. Over the past decade, over 150 000 people have been killed, injured, or displaced in xenophobic incidents across the country. Yet the government, international organisations, and civil society responses remain hampered by limited information on the frequency, location, and causes of such attacks. Xenowatch aims to help address this gap. Through crowd-sourcing, mapping, and research, Xenowatch:

  • Monitors xenophobic discrimination across the country, including official responses to such incidents;
  • Serves as an early warning system that notifies authorities and civil society about threats, violence and displacement.
  • After receiving reports, the team immediately informs police, international organisations, and nominated civil society actors;
  • Verifies and anonymises reports and makes them publicly available on Xenowatch.ac.za;
  • Provides analyses, maps and interactive statistical tools for users on Xenowatch.ac.za;
  • Identifies the characteristics of communities at risk and the triggers of violence in ways that can inform conflict prevention and resolution initiatives along with local and national policy;
  • Encourage greater accountability among police and other government officials to promote social cohesion and security for all.

Each incident reported will be lodged in a confidential data base. Once lodged, each report will be prioritised, verified, anonymised, relayed, and made publicly available. In urgent cases, incidents will be immediately verified by an ACMS project administrator and anonymised incident descriptions will be relayed to UNHCR, SAPS and other partners. In low priority cases, where there are no active threats or violence, an ACMS administrator will verify the report within 48 hours. If reporting an emergency, please dial 10111 as we cannot guarantee your message will reach the police in your area. For further details on how to report an incident, refer to the how to report page.