Uneasy calm in Johannesburg after anti-immigrant riots

Police on alert in South Africa’s business hub after violence leaves eight dead and displaces more than 1,000.

An uneasy calm prevails in South Africa’s financial hub, Johannesburg, on the third day since violence against foreigners erupted in the city.

People were on alert on Sunday for further incidents after the city saw an outbreak of anti-immigrant attacks in certain neighbourhoods.

At least six people have been killed and more than 1,000 people displaced after violence against foreign nationals flared up on March 30 in the country’s coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal.

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

Lieutenant Colonel Lungelo Dlamini told Al Jazeera that Johannesburg was very quiet on Sunday. 

He said that no violent incidents over night or on Sunday.

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

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

The news of the deaths came as 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.

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He said Jeppestown, densely populated with foreign nationals and local South Africans, particularly surrounding the hostel, was very tense on Saturday.

There was a feeling that violence would break out at any point, with people collecting bricks from the road and glass bottles, he said.

Police presence in the area was limited though, he said. “There were about two police officers in the area.”

Elsewhere in Johannesburg there was a sense of anxiety among foreigners.

“While people are going about their business, there is a worry that if things are not contained, they could spill over into something worse,” Demian said.

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Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies