Zuma calls for calm as S.Africa immigrant attacks spread

South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday appealed for calm as a wave of anti-immigrant violence spread to Johannesburg, raising fears the country's dire economic woes could spark widespread unrest. At least six people have been

South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday appealed for calm as a wave of anti-immigrant violence spread to Johannesburg, raising fears the country’s dire economic woes could spark widespread unrest.

At least six people have been killed in the last two weeks in attacks in the Indian Ocean city of Durban that targeted shops and homes owned by Somalis, Ethiopians, Malawians and other immigrants.

Police in the Actonville area of Johannesburg used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of anti-immigrant protesters on Thursday, while foreign-owned shops in the Jeppestown area of the city were attacked overnight.

“We have witnessed shocking and unacceptable incidents of violence directed at foreign nationals,” Zuma told parliament in Cape Town.

“No amount of frustration or anger can ever justify the attacks on foreign nationals and the looting of their shops.

“We appeal for calm, an end to the violence, and restraint.

“The police have been directed to work round the clock to protect both foreign nationals and citizens and to arrest looters.”

Thousands of people marched through Durban to call for better protection for immigrants, more than 1,000 of whom have fled their homes in the city and sought shelter in camps.

Marchers chanted “Down with xenophobia!” and “A United Africa” at an event attended by residents, students and local religious and political leaders.

Police have vowed to quell the unrest, which claimed its latest victim on Monday when a 14-year-old boy was killed in KwaMashu, a township north of Durban.

“There are tensions in various parts of the country between some locals and foreign nationals (but) lawlessness will not be tolerated,” National Police Commissioner General Riah Phiyega said in a statement.

Police, who also reported tensions in Pietermaritzburg, a city some 80 kilometres (50 miles) from Durban, called for community leaders to help reduce friction and added that false rumours of attacks were increasing fear.

– Jobs scarce –

Earlier this year, similar xenophobic violence erupted in Soweto, near Johannesburg, as frustration deepens over lack of opportunities for many young blacks 21 years after the end of apartheid in 1994.

South Africa’s economic growth was just 1.5 percent last year and unemployment is at around 25 percent — soaring to over 50 percent among the young.

Violence against immigrants in South Africa is common, with unemployed locals accusing foreigners of taking their jobs.

In 2008, 62 people were killed in xenophobic violence in Johannesburg townships.

One of the marchers in Durban, Eric Machi, 34, said he rented rooms to Zimbabweans and Malawians until they fled from attackers in recent weeks.

“We are trying to make peace with those people who came here from Africa, but now they are gone,” he said.

“It started late at night. The attackers were shouting and throwing stones, and breaking some houses.”

Zuma told parliament he wanted to address the root cause of the attacks — including illegal immigration and accusations that many migrants are criminals.

“We wish to emphasise that while some foreign nationals have been arrested for various crimes, it is misleading and wrong to label or regard all foreign nationals as being involved in crime,” he said.

“Many (immigrants) bring skills that are scarce that help us to develop the economy and are most welcome to live our country.

Many shops in the centre of Johannesburg were shut on Wednesday and Thursday after threats spread via social networks and text messages.

“Anytime (it) can happen now,” said Ali Abdi, a Somali who runs a clothes shop but is now sleeping in a camp in Durban.

“There is not just one reason. Some of it is foreigner hatred, especially against African foreigners. The other reason would be jealousy.”

AFP

 

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10 COMMENTS
  • Sara April 16, 2015

    it is shame for shoodouth africa, during apartheid time the black south africans were refugees in the neighborhood countries. They are now killing africans They have to work hard rather than looting. I know it is not the whole population, it is criminals that they loot people.

    It is sad to see that black south africans lives in absolute poverty, and there are millions of non-africans very rich. They dare to go to them, they attack the poor africans

  • Mesfin Adhanom April 17, 2015

    No matter where you reside, either in South Africa or in Kenya, you are part of the great people called Black Africans. So you should be proud to keep the good culture of living peacefully with one another, respecting and sharing your qualities positively within the other communities.

    South Africans should also never forget the great role played and the massive contributions from their black African brothers and sisters in their bitter and long struggle against apartheid not that long ago. Their great former leader and father Nelson Mandela must be turning in sadness in his graves. But as in every society it is the very few drunk hooligans that are acting wildly and giving poor South Africa bad name and reputation. Life is too short and precious to lose it in an evil fights against your man kind.

  • eritrea forever April 17, 2015

    what a shame.

  • AHMED SALEH April 17, 2015

    Your country is your pride , period .

  • Habtemariam April 18, 2015

    South Africa blacks are blaming their black African brothers who help them during their struggle against white rule/colony for their economic misery and are killing them mercielessly. I watched with disbelief a video just posted calling on “war on Africans”. Shame on you South Africans with your present leaders and how could you repay this way to your fellow black Africans who helped you on your dark days?

  • Blata Demsas April 18, 2015

    It is a shame by all accounts. South Africa, Kenya, Uganda etc are the places that I recently visited and with no exaggeration there is take over ny the Indians & Chinese and Arabs to the extent that
    There are areas where the locals are not even allowed to live or mingle. A typical example of a Chinese restaurant owner in Kenya banned black Africans from dinning in his restaurant.
    The government or the people didn’t do crap about it so shame on you for killing your own brothers & sisters. Get your acts together ans talk about the bigger issue of Indians& Chinese taking over Africa informally in the the name of economic air.
    Thx

  • mohammed Keren April 18, 2015

    luckily there are only few Eritreans in south Africa

    • rezen April 19, 2015

      Questions:
      a)“luckily”? : How about a feeling for the other Africans?; the other brothers and sisters? and human beings in general ?
      b)“only a few Eritreans”? : How few are a few? Is the Life of ONE human being worthless?; how about TWO?; how about THREE? ……….. where does one stop?
      c)Are Eritreans more precious than other human beings ?
      d)Can similar animosity, disturbance and savagery ever occur in Eritrea?
      e)By the way, when does Eritrea end its own shameful problems? (i.e. if it accepts it has any!)

  • Selamawit April 18, 2015

    What is our world coming to, could it be it is coming to an end?
    If yes then we all need to clean up ourselves from all our sins of the past and pray for Gods blessing.
    Not only the South Africa killing and inhuman acts but also we witnessing in America poor blacks are shot and chocked to death by police everyday. Why only the blacks get all the bad lucks and when is it all going to stop?

  • Bus-zone April 19, 2015

    what you see in South Africa it is happeing in Eritrea Since 1993 , some may ask how
    If you open succeful business in Eritrea Hegdef asses will open the same business next to your door if ur business is not going down the next step is a car with unknown plate number
    Will pick you half way from your home and you will disappear in thin air and ur kids will grew up Orphans under the pre-text of ———, the different is S.Africa is open place whereas Eritrea Hell hole some where on this planet

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