ONE person died yesterday and several shops and property belonging to foreigners of African descent including Zimbabweans were burnt and looted in fresh xenophobic attacks in South Africa’s Gauteng Province.
In a statement, Gauteng police spokesperson Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said they were investigating a case of murder following the fatal shooting of a member of the public by a group of people who had gathered in Hillbrow, central Johannesburg.
The nationality of the deceased could not be immediately established yesterday.
“At this stage police are still interviewing several people to establish the motive for the shooting. No one has been arrested for the murder.
“Several operations are still continuing in Tembisa and more people are expected to be arrested. Police are also appealing to any person affected by violence to contact police Emergency number 10111,” said Col Dlamini.
He described the perpetrators as criminal opportunists and confirmed about 100 have been arrested over the attacks.
“Police are condemning all acts of violence directed at the businesses and the looting of shops described as those of foreign nationals by criminal opportunists in areas that include Ekurhuleni, Tshwane and Johannesburg Central.
“Irresponsible use and abuse of social media is also having a way of fuelling these acts of violence and instability to advance the criminal acts. The Gauteng Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Elias Mawela has instructed all commanders to take strong action against the perpetrators as this state of affairs can’t be allowed to continue,” said Col Dlamini.
He said the violence that started last week in Tshwane has seen a number of shops being burnt and several others being looted.
Col Dlamini said the attacks also escalated in Johannesburg on Sunday and other areas in the early hours of yesterday morning.
“However, several arrests have also been effected for serious crimes including public violence, malicious damage to property and theft. A total of 100 people have been arrested since Sunday.
“The arrests were effected in various areas which include 20 in Rossettenville, 35 in Malvern, 10 in Tembisa, 26 in Jeppe and 9 in Germiston,” said Col Dlamini
The xenophobic attacks, which have been condemned by the ruling African National Congress, South African police, human rights groups and national leaders, affected many foreigners in Johannesburg, Pretoria and other areas in Gauteng Province.
ANC secretary general, Ace Magashule, pleaded with the people of South Africa to stop the attacks and maintain peace in that country.
“We condemn the violent attacks on foreigners. This is unacceptable irrespective of whatever reasons people want to give. As the leadership of ANC, we’re making a plea to our people wherever they are to make sure there’s peace and stability all over South Africa.
“We appreciate the Minister of Police, the Premier of Gauteng and the leadership of ANC, who are on the ground to assess the situation,” said Mr Magashule in a statement last night.
Police Minister, Mr Bheki Cele, has since described the chaotic scenes in Johannesburg as a “national emergency.”
Reports, videos and pictures from the neighbouring country show South Africans descending on shops owned by foreigners and looting before burning the shops and cars.
In a statement, Minister Cele condemned the attacks and said they were acts of criminality.
“I find it as an excuse of doing criminality but for now, we’ll deal with the criminality. It’s a state of national emergency,” he said.
Minister Cele said groups of people have been pelting passing vehicles with rocks, preventing motorists from accessing parts of the Johannesburg CBD.
Looting, burning of cars and shops has been reported in Hillbrow, Tembisa and Turfontein in Johannesburg and Jeppestown, Malvern, Ekurhuleni and Sunnyside in Pretoria.
Metro bus services have been suspended in the wake of the unrest while emergency services have withdrawn from scenes of a fire fearing for their safety.
Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF) leader Mr Gabriel Shumba yesterday called on the Sadc Organ on Defence and Security to intervene and stop the attacks on foreigners in the neighbouring country.
“At an African Union level, I think there is a need for very serious introspection regarding what measures are necessary to protect the defenceless African citizenry in this country.
“There is a pattern to the persecution that shows that police, politicians and some business moguls are complicit in the loss of lives and property. There is apathy or at worst, unwillingness or half-hearted attempts to prosecute well known perpetrators,” said Mr Shumba.