Upsurge In South African Xenophobic Attacks Sparks Fears Of More Violence

Upsurge In South African Xenophobic Attacks Sparks Fears Of More Violence

Armed off-duty police officers protest over police pay and working conditions, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. Off-duty police officers and their supporters exchanged fire for nearly two hours with members of the newly reconstituted Haitian army in front of the national palace. (AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

Immigrant communities in South Africa have been reporting an upsurge of xenophobic violence for weeks, raising fears that anti-foreigner sentiment could spark a recurrence of attacks that claimed 67 lives in 2008 and 2015, Bloomberg reported.

Residents have complained to local radio stations and on social media that foreigners are selling drugs and forcing South African girls into prostitution.

At least a dozen houses were set on fire in the Johannesburg suburb of Rosettenville. Residents said the homes were used as brothels or drug dens and were mostly occupied by foreigners.

About 60 people died and 50,000 fled their homes during anti-immigrant attacks in 2008. Violence flared again in 2015 with seven deaths at the hands of machete-wielding mobs.

Several million African migrants live and work in South Africa, competing with locals for jobs, business opportunities and housing. Unemployment is more than 25 percent.

A demonstration is planned on Feb. 24 to protest against the presence of Nigerians, Pakistanis and Zimbabweans.

From Africa Review. Story by Peter Dube.

South Africa’s Pretoria West residents went on a rampage on Saturday and petrol bombed two houses belonging to foreign nationals.

They claim the immigrants were using the houses as brothels, recruiting young girls as prostitutes and introducing them to drugs.

In the past two weekends, at least 22 houses either belonging or being rented by foreigners were burnt in Rosettenville, south of Johannesburg.

Locals alleged that “drug dens” were mushrooming in the area because of immigrants.

The chairman of the African Diaspora Forum, Marc Gbaffou, said the situation was tense in Pretoria, adding that immigrants had to close down their businesses and flee as the attacks started early on Saturday.

No injuries or arrests were reported. Law enforcement has been sent to the area to quell the violence, said police spokesman Lungelo Dlamini.

Angry residents raided alleged drug dens and brothels on Saturday, burning two houses down as they went door to door in search of drugs.

“It is under control right now. We have deployed quite a number of police in the area to ensure that the violence did not flare up again,” Dlamini said.

By late afternoon Saturday, residents were still walking up and down the streets under heavy police guard, vowing to root out criminality.

Gbaffou said they feared the attacks could be a build-up to a march against foreigners. Most of those targeted were from Nigeria, Zimbabwe and Pakistan.

The Gauteng Member of the Executive Committee (MEC) for Community Safety, Ms Sizakele Nkosi–Malobane, condemned the violence and damage to property in Pretoria West.

“It is a constitutional right for members of our communities to organize themselves and engage in a peaceful protest but once that right is violated by burning and vandalizing of properties it becomes a crime,” Nkosi said in a statement.

Read more at Africa Review.