Xenophobic clashes hit South African township overnight

Police clash with residents outside Johannesburg as tension persists after xenophobic attacks.

Xenophobia South Africa
Police have been deployed to a series of flashpoint areas across the country [EPA]

Clashes between locals trying to loot foreign-owned stores and police have taken place overnight in a township outside Johannesburg, as tension persists in several South African cities following attacks on immigrants.

Radio station Eyewitness News reported that police shot rubber bullets at rioters in Actonville in clashes that continued into the early hours of Monday morning. 

Gauteng Police spokesperson Colonel Lungelo Dlamini told Al Jazeera that police were called in after roads were closed but that no looting had taken place. He denied reports that police had fired rubber bullets, claiming that only tear gas had been used. 

“The situation is quiet now, but we do have a lot of police presence in the hotspots,” Dlamini said. 

Meanwhile, speaking to 702 news on Monday, David Mahlobo, minister of state security, described the country as “relatively stable over the past 48 hours”.

Residents of #Actonville were dispersed by police after they took to the streets last night, blocking the roads outside the hostel #sabcnews

— Jamaine Krige (@jour_maine) April 20, 2015

At least 1,000 people have been displaced after violence against foreign nationals flared up on March 30 in Durban. The violence soon spread to townships around Johannesburg.

South African police said 307 suspects had been been arrested for a variety of crimes related to xenophobic violence that has resulted in at least eight deaths. 

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

On Sunday, the Sunday Times newspaper published the images of a Mozambican man being attacked by a mob in the Alexandra township in Johannesburg. The man, identifed as Emmanuel Sithole , was stabbed to death.

Police said on Monday that three suspects had been arrested and search was under way for a fourth suspect in connection with the killing.

Mahlobo, minister of state security, told local media on Monday that he was thankful to journalist James Oatway for capturing the series of brutal pictures that helped identify the suspects.

A loose collection of civil society organisations said they planned a massive march for peace later this week. 

The People’s March Against Xenophobia said a march would take place on Thursday. Organisers said it “will rally support for unity among principled South Africans standing in solidarity with the mainly poor foreign nationals, migrants and refugees of colour under siege”.

The latest wave of attacks comes barely months after the township of Soweto was engulfed in anti-immigrant violence in January.

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Source: Al Jazeera