Inside South Africa’s Operation Dudula: ‘Why we hate foreigners’

South African anti-migrant group Operation Dudula has become notorious for raiding businesses belonging to foreign nationals and forcing shops to close. BBC Africa Eye has gained rare access to members of the country’s most-prominent anti-migrant street movement.

In a school kitchen in Kwa Thema, a township east of Johannesburg, Dimakatso Makoena is busy making sandwiches. The 57-year-old single parent of three has been a cook there for more than 10 years.

“To tell you the truth, I hate foreigners. How I wish they could just pack and go and leave our country,” she says, fighting back tears.

It is hard to understand the strength of this hate until Ms Makoena pulls out her phone to show a picture of her son. Emaciated with a glazed look in his eyes, angry burn scars spread over his body, up his arms and across his face.

“He started smoking drugs when he was 14 years old,” she says, explaining how her son often goes out to steal things to feed his habit. One day he had tried to take some power cables to sell when he got electrocuted and burned.

Her son uses crystal meth and nyaope, a highly addictive street drug that has devastated communities across South Africa. It is not until she blames foreigners for selling the drugs that her reasoning and support for Operation Dudula becomes clear.



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