South Africa faces crisis over anti-immigrant attacks
April 19, Johannesburg: President of South Africa Jacob Zuma canceled a foreign trip on Saturday in order to deal with a wave of attacks on immigrants that have killed at least six people.
He was scheduled to leave Saturday evening for Indonesia to attend a meeting of African and Asian leaders, but will instead stay to campaign for a peaceful resolution to the unrest that has swept several areas of South Africa in the past week, his office said.
In the latest violence, gang attacked shops owned by foreign nationals in a poor area of Johannesburg.
Zuma planned to visit immigrants staying in a camp in the Chatsworth area of the coastal city of Durban, where some of the worst violence has occurred.
Zuma in a press statement said that, “These attacks go against everything we believe in. The majority of South Africans love peace and good relations with their brothers and sisters in the continent.”
There was a heavy police presence in the Alexandra township of Johannesburg after rioters looted some shops, burned tires and built street barricades overnight, according to eNCA, a South African news outlet. Police fired rubber bullets in an attempt to stop the unrest, the report said.
Several shops and cars owned by immigrants were torched in downtown Johannesburg in recent days.
Attacks on immigrants, many of them from other African countries, in and around Durban have subsided after the deaths of six people there, police said. Some 112 people were arrested in KwaZulu-Natal province, which includes Durban, during the riots there, according to authorities.
Some South Africans have accused immigrants of taking jobs and opportunities away from them in a country with high unemployment. The government has said it is addressing complaints about undocumented migrants, while noting that many foreign nationals are living legally in South Africa and contributing to economic development.
The Oslo Times
Source: The Associated Press