A member of South Africa’s opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) led by Julius Malema was shot on the leg and wounded in Johannesburg’s Alexandra township as the party kicked off its door-to-door anti-xenophobia campaign.
Pretoria says six people have died in the xenophobic violence, whose epicenter is the coastal city of Durban in Kwazulu Natal.
The EFF supporters and members of the public were forced to take cover, as shots rang out.
Despite the tense situation, Malema still addressed the crowd and called the attacks on foreigners ‘’senseless’’.
In an exclusive interview with VOA Studio 7, Malema condemned the shooting saying it was "aimed at intimidating the membership and leadership of the EFF for discouraging South Africans from engaging in illegal activities of xenophobia."
The violence in South Africa has drawn widespread condemnation in most African countries. South African president Jacob Zuma announced Saturday that he had cancelled a trip to Indonesia to attend to the on-going attacks on foreign nationals in the country.
In press statement, the office of the president announced the cancellation and called for an end to the violence. "We reiterate our message that there can be no justification for the attacks on foreign nationals," Zuma said in a statement.
"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."
In recent weeks, the violence has forced foreigners living in the towns of Isipingo, Chatsworth, Umlazi, KwaMashu and Sydenham, all near Durban, out of their homes. Many have ended up in transit camps set up by non-governmental organizations.
The xenophobic violence is reminiscent of the deadly 2008 violence in Johannesburg that killed 62 people and displaced thousands. There have been running battles between the police and protesters ever since the violence started.