Addressing Xenophobia in the Equality Courts of South Africa


  • Justin de Jager University of Cape Town Refugee Rights Unit



South Africa, Equality Courts, Said matter, Osman matter, xenophobia, discrimination, police, law, refugees


South African society bears a legacy of inequality and struggle against oppression. In the Constitutional era, our courts have held that the right to equality is a core fundamental value against which all law and state practice must be tested. South Africa’s Equality Courts have been heralded as a transformative mechanism for the redressing of systemic inequality and the promotion of the right to equality. Following the aftermath of the 2008 xenophobic attacks in South Africa, the University of Cape Town Refugee Law Clinic, on behalf of some of the victims of these attacks, launched equality claims against the South African Police Services in order to address the unfair discrimination and xenophobia of police officials in protecting these victims. This paper reviews the two matters launched by the Clinic in the Equality Courts, examining the challenges that effectively reduce the accessibility of the Equality Courts and the difficulty inherent in proving discrimination in equality claims, and commenting on the benefits of using these courts to address xenophobia.


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Author Biography

Justin de Jager, University of Cape Town Refugee Rights Unit

Justin de Jager is an attorney of the High Court of South Africa working primarily in the Refugee Rights Unit’s strategic litigation. He has completed courses in Advanced Refugee Law and Statelessness at the American University of Cairo and Oxford.



How to Cite

de Jager, J. (2013). Addressing Xenophobia in the Equality Courts of South Africa. Refuge: Canada’s Journal on Refugees, 28(2), 107–116.



Special Section on South Africa

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