South Africa battles fresh xenophobic violence

South African looters take items from an alleged foreign-owned shop during a riot in the Johannesburg suburb of Turffontein on September 2. AFP Photo


South African police fired rubber bullets and patrolled parts of Johannesburg on Tuesday after the financial capital was hit by a new wave of anti-foreigner violence. Rocks, bricks and rubber bullets lay strewn across the empty streets of Alexandra after mobs plundered the township overnight, burning and looting shops in their path.

This was the second night of urban rioting in Johannesburg, where hundreds of people marched through the streets on Monday in an unusually large expression of anti-foreigner sentiment.

More than 90 people were arrested on Monday in connection with the violence and looting of shops in Johannesburg and surrounding areas, the government said.

“They burnt everything,” Bangladeshi shop owner Kamrul Hasan, 27, told AFP in Alexandra, adding that his shop gets attacked every three to six months.

“All my money is gone. If the (South African) government pays for my plane ticket, I will go back to Bangladesh,” he said.

South Africa is a major destination for economic migrants from the southern Africa region, with many moving from neighbouring Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe in search for work.

Deputy President David Mabuza on Tuesday condemned all acts of violence targeting foreign nationals.

The violence has erupted on the eve of the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town, where hundreds of political and business leaders will gather for three days on Wednesday.