South African Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, has moved in to try and ease tensions in the country’s townships and squatter camps following fresh incidents of xenophobic attacks.
Reports from Durban say over a thousand foreigners have fled their homes and are seeking refuge at police stations following violent attacks from South Africans.
Police said no deaths had been reported since the violence rocked the eastern port city last weekend. Locals and African immigrants in South Africa often compete for scarce jobs, making them a target for violence and intimidation.
Some foreigners are blaming the attacks on Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini and President Jacob Zuma’s first born son, Edward, who are accused of publicly attacking foreigners and saying they must leave South Africa. King Zwelithini though now says he was misquoted by the media.
In 2008, about 62 people were killed in xenophobic violence in Johannesburg townships. Gigaba on Thursday evening addressed members of the diplomatic corps and promised that his government will take action against these attacks.
Gigaba also urged South African traditional and political leaders to desist from stoking tensions.
Meanwhile, organisations representing foreign nationals and other civic society movements and activists in South Africa have condemned the current xenophobic attacks taking place in Kwazulu Natal and called on the government to stop the attacks with immediate effect.
The wife of former speaker of the national assembly, Max Sisulu, criticized President Robert Mugabe and President Jacob Zuma for failing to publicly denounce the current acts of xenophobia during their televised address Thursday and Friday.