Xenowatch Data

The Xenowatch dashboard contains disaggregated incident information on xenophobic discrimination across South Africa. The incidents reflected are published on the dashboard on a weekly basis. Xenowatch data does not contain any personally identifiable information of victims and witnesses that can be used to track such individuals. All information recorded is anonymised before publication.

Xenowatch collects data that includes the type of incident, different types of victimasation, date and year and other features of the xenophobic incident. The types of incidents recorded include but are not limited to: threats, violence, eviction, denied service, forced repatriation, harassment, extortion, unlawful arrest and political demonstration etc. The dashboard provides an overview of the total number of incidents, from 1994 to the most current date, total number of persons killed, displaced, and shops looted. In addition, an overview of the number of persons killed by year and total number of incidents by province are reflected.

How Can the Data be Used

Xenowatch data is used to inform early warning mechanisms and provide risk analysis on causes of xenophobic discrimination, identify communities at risk and to inform evidence based interventions, decisions and programming to address xenophobic discrimination. Xenowatch data is freely accessible to the public and is used by individuals, the media, scholars, policy makers and practioners around the world for several purposes that includes among others; academic research, evidence to support publications on xenophobic discrimination, lobbying and advocacy initiatives. Any information used for research, publicity, etc. obtained from the website should reference or credit Xenowatch accordingly. Please consult our Terms of Use for further information on the Use of Xenowatch data.

How is the Information Collected

Xenowatch collects data and information on xenophobic discrimination through media reports, research publications, original research, partner organisations and verification partners, and information crowdsourcing. Members of the public report information on xenophobic discrimination incidents using WhatsApp/call and email. Received reports are verified, anonymised, and made publicly available on the website. Where necessary, reports are relayed to the South African Police Service (SAPS) and other relevant authorities and stakeholders for intervention.

All reported incidents go through a rigorous verification process by the Xenowatch team to: i) determine whether the incident did indeed occur and prevent false reports from spreading; ii) ascertain whether it was caused by xenophobia, as not all attacks on foreign nationals or outsiders are xenophobic; and iii) collect further details on the incident (such as exact location, date and time, a detailed description of the incident, trigger event, profile of victims and perpetrators and where information is available, and responses or interventions if any).

The verification process involves telephoning or engaging remotely (via email or online meetings) with the reporting individuals, SAPS and local authorities, community-based organisations, on-the-ground verification partners and Xenowatch monitors. These engagements are often complemented by site visits by either the Xenowatch management team or Xenowatch monitors.

Limitations of the Data

There are limitations to the application of Xenowatch data. This is due to: i) under reporting; ii) and incomplete reports or limited information on xenophobic discrimination incidents. Regarding under reporting, victims of – and witnesses to- xenophobic discrimination hesitate to report incidents particularly due to fear of victimisation, as some of the perpetrators reside within their communities. Another contributing factor is the lack of confidence in the police, as reporting incidents is understood by the public to rarely triggers police response and assistance. Underreporting means that many xenophobic discrimination incidents may not have been recorded on the Xenowatch dataset and therefore are not included in this dashboard.

Xenowatch often receives incomplete reports with limited information on xenophobic discrimination incidents. This means that detailed information on the extent of the violence and damage or victimisation caused is not always available. For example, exact figures on the number of shops looted; properties damaged; persons killed, assaulted, or displaced; as well as the nationality and gender of victims, are not always easy to determine. Hence the numbers provided are sometimes estimates.

To address these limitations, Xenowatch has hired research assistants or Xenowatch monitors to ensure no xenophobic discrimination incidents go unnoticed and detailed information is timeously collected. Their monitoring work is complemented/facilitated by the growing network of Xenowatch verification partners across the country. While not exhaustive due to the limitations mentioned, Xenowatch data and analysis provide critical insights for a more accurate understanding of xenophobia and related violence in South Africa. Such an understanding is indispensable for designing interventions to effectively address this type of violent discrimination.

How can I contact  the Xenowatch team?

For general questions and comments, please contact info@xenowatch.ac.za or use our website contact form.

For media queries and questions on related to the data, please contact info@xenowatch.ac.za. To report an incident, please contact report@xenowatch.ac.za