Foreign nationals watch after their shacks were set on fire by alleged looters at Marabastad, near the Pretoria city centre, South Africa, on September 2 during the latest xenophobic attacks. PHOTO | AFP
Since 1869, the South African economy has been dependent on migrant labour to work on the country’s diamond and gold mines. Migrant labour, mostly from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi, has ensured a supply of cheap wage labour to the mining sector and its secondary industry, a system which has been condemned throughout the world. In 1904, the South African government started importing Chinese labour to satisfy the ever-increasing demand for cheap labour in the mines.