السبت , يونيو 6 2020

SA shops hit by xenophobic attacks

Foreign-owned shops in South Africa have been attacked and looted in east Johannesburg, the latest in a series of xenophobic attacks.

A standoff is ongoing in Johannesburg, with police forming a barrier between an angry crowd and foreign-owned shops.

The violence comes despite Thursday’s rally against xenophobia in the coastal city of Durban, and condemnation from President Jacob Zuma.

At least five people have died in anti-foreigner attacks in recent weeks.

Migrants, mostly from other African states and Asia, have moved to South Africa in large numbers since white-minority rule ended in 1994.

Many South Africans accuse them of taking jobs in a country where the unemployment rate is 24%.

‘Shocking’

A crowd began looting foreign-owned shops in east Johannesburg on Thursday night. About about 200 foreigners took refuge at a police station.

Police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the looters and arrested 12 people.

Eyewitness Raphael Nkomo told the BBC: “A group of men were dropped from a minibus. All of them were armed with [knives]. They started chasing people, throwing stones at them, hitting them.”

A new standoff began in the eastern suburb Jeppestown on Friday, as police sought to prevent people from attacking more shops.

Milton Nkosi's tweet showing standoff between police and a crowd
Tweet from Milton Nkosi showing police cars
Tweet from Milton Nkosi showing angry crowd

The acting Premier of the Gauteng province around Johannesburg, Qedani Mahlangu, called on “each and every South African who’s a peace-loving South African to stand up and condemn this.”

On Friday, police also used rubber bullets to disperse a group of migrants in Johannesburg who had armed themselves with machetes for protection.

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How many foreign nationals are there?

  • Official data suggests about two million foreign nationals are in South Africa – about 4% of the total population. However, other estimates put the number of immigrants at five million.
  • In Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg, about 7% of the population are thought to be non-citizens.
  • In 2012, Zimbabweans received the largest number of temporary residence permits (17%), followed by nationals from Nigeria, India, China, Pakistan and the UK.

Sources: Census 2011 data, Statistics South Africa, International Organization for Migration, University of the Witwatersrand.

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On Thursday President Zuma condemned the recent xenophobic attacks as “shocking”.

“No amount of frustration or anger can justify the attacks on foreign nationals and the looting of their shops,” he told parliament on Thursday.

Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has been accused of fuelling the attacks by saying that foreigners should “go back to their countries”. However, he said that his comments had been distorted.

The police have established 24-hour centres to clamp down on attacks on foreign nationals, the BBC’s Milton Nkosi in Johannesburg reports.

Many South Africans are against the violence, but are also unhappy with the level of immigration and feel they are being undercut by immigrants from poorer countries, our correspondent adds.

At least 62 people died in xenophobic attacks in South Africa in 2008.

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Regional reaction:

“Zimbabwe has to have its economy working again so that its citizens are not hunted like animals in foreign lands. The xenophobia is not only a shame for South Africa, but for the continent at large.” – Zimbabwe’s Newsday

“As Malawians, let us collectively take a stand to show our anger. For starters, let us boycott South African business empires.” – Malawi’s Nyasa Times

“The most worrying thing is that all of this in happened South Africa amidst the quasi-indifference from the authorities. It took a dozen days of deadly violence in Durban for the president to be roused to action.” – Burkina Faso’sL’Observateur

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Are you in South Africa? Have you been affected by the recent attacks and protests? You can share your experiences by emailing

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