Thousands of people are marching in South Africa’s coastal city of Durban in a major rally against xenophobia following attacks on foreigners.
Organisers said about 10,000 people were expected. At least five people have been killed and foreign-owned shops looted in recent weeks.
The Zulu king has been accused of fuelling the violence. He denies this.
Many jobless South Africans accuse foreigners of taking jobs in a country where the unemployment rate is 24%.
President Jacob Zuma has condemned the violence and is expected to address parliament about the issue later on.
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Protesters marched through Durban chanting “Down with xenophobia” and “A United Africa”.
They were led by the mayor of Durban and the premier of KwaZulu Natal province.
Marcher Vanessa Govender told the BBC people: “It’s just a mammoth show of support for all those foreigners who have fallen victim to the past two weeks of xenophobic violence.”
The violence, which broke out in Durban and surrounding townships, has spread to other parts of the country, including the economic capital Johannesburg.
Dozens of foreigners were reported to have sought refuge in a police station outside Johannesburg overnight, and foreign-owned shops were said to have been attacked in the city’s Jeppestown area.
On Wednesday, Malawi said it would evacuate its nationals from South Africa while Mozambique has set up border camps to cope with the exodus of its citizens.
Many foreigners, mostly from other African states and Asia, have moved to South Africa since white-minority rule ended in 1994.
At least 62 people died in xenophobic attacks that swept South Africa in 2008.
The government-backed South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is investigating two complaints of hate speech made against Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini.
He was widely quoted as saying last month that foreigners should “go back to their countries”. However, he said that his comments had been distorted.
“The king is saddened by what is happening,” his spokesman Prince Thulani Zulu told AFP news agency.
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