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South Africa: Foreign nationals criticise government over xenophobic violence

By Crystal Oderson in Cape Town
Posted on Monday, 26 January 2015 12:46

The Consortium for Refugees and Migrants in South Africa (CoRMSA) said it was deeply concerned by the lack of political response to the attacks on foreigners in Soweto Township and surrounding areas.

lack of effective response from the government to deal with xenophobia

This follows overnight looting of foreign owned shops in areas like Langlaagte and Alexandra on Johannesburg’s East rand.

Gauteng police said the looting had spread to these areas. Police discovered bodies of two South African men in Langlaagte on Sunday night after a foreign-owned shop was looted and another burnt down.

CoRMSA called “for urgent intervention from the Presidency, the Ministry of Police, the African National Congress (ANC) and leaders of other political parties to call on communities to desist from continuing with the rampant behaviour”.

The group said the 2008 xenophobic attacks in South Africa showed that a delayed response from the political leadership contributes to the escalation of such incidences.

Another group, the African Diaspora Forum said it was “deeply worried about the current course of violence across the country and the lack of effective response from the government to deal with xenophobia”.

Violence and looting broke out in Soweto last week and spread to other areas in Gauteng province after the killing of a teenager who was accused of trying to rob a foreign-owned shop.

The shop owner allegedly shot and killed the teen and will appear in court soon.

An analyst Nic Boraine in a weekly update on political events in the country said the “looting of foreign owned shops is xenophobia and opportunism in equal measures”.

Boraine said, immigrant communities do well in the informal retail sector and were despised by domestic competitors and are ‘soft’ targets for criminals and opportunistic mobs.

He said foreigners were seldom afforded adequate police protection from officers who often share the hostile community sentiment on the ‘successful’ outsiders.

Meanwhile, the situation in Soweto and Kagiso townships was calm on Monday.

At 90 people out of the 178 who were arrested since last week in connection with the violence were expected in court on Monday.

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