South Africa arrests hundreds over xenophobic violence

Police arrest more than 300 for crimes against migrants, after violence kills eight and displaces more than 1,000.

    South Africa's government has vowed to crack down on xenophobic violence, after arresting more than 300 people for a range of crimes against migrants.

    Authorities said on Sunday in Johannesburg that 307 suspects had been arrested for a range of xenophobic-related crimes.

    Security agencies have also increased the police presence on the ground after at least eight deaths in anti-immigrant violence in the past week.

    "They have actually pushed other people to leave their own comfort zones, their homes," David Mahlobo, the minister of state security, said.

    More than 1,000 people have been displaced after violence against foreign nationals flared up on March 30 in the country's coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal, whose capital is Durban.

    The attacks soon spread inland to the country's financial hub, Johannesburg, in Gauteng province.

    On Saturday, another two people were reported killed, bringing the death toll in the latest wave of attacks to eight, South African police said.

    Uneasy calm

    Meanwhile, an uneasy calm prevailed in Johannesburg on Sunday, on the third day since violence against foreigners erupted in the city.

    Lieutenant Colonel Lungelo Dlamini told Al Jazeera that no violent incidents occurred overnight or on Sunday.

    "There are enough officers deployed and the situation has been stabilised," he said.

    The arrests came after President Jacob Zuma cancelled a trip to Indonesia in order to address the situation at home.

    He told a crowd in the Chatsworth area of KwaZulu-Natal that the government would deploy police to every area to ensure safety.

    In a separate statement, Zuma said: "We will engage stakeholders next week as we need all leaders to work together to bring the situation to normality."

    Trouble spots

    The violence in Johannesburg centred around trouble spots such as Jeppestown, Alexandra, Malvern, Thokoza and Cleveland.

    Jeppestown was tense on Saturday following overnight clashes and looting of foreign-owned shops.

    However, Mina Demian, a local reporter who visited the neighbourhood, said the incidents of violence were random.

    He said that there was a sense that people were going out at night to target shops.

    "It does not seem as organised as you would imagine it to be," Demian said.

     * Safeeyah Kharsany contributed to this report

    Click on the image below to learn more about xenophobia in South Africa

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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