SOUTH African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, has warned his compatriots that the violence they are meting out to fellow Africans can be dealt out to them when they visit other countries.
Five people had died yesterday in the latest wave of xenophobia in the neighbouring country.
Police in South Africa yesterday reported that 189 people had been arrested in connection with the violence and looting of foreign owned shops.
So bad was the situation that Gauteng Province- the epicentre of the attacks – Premier Mr David Makhura warned that he would not hesitate to deploy the army to areas in the province plagued attacks on foreigners.
Police yesterday said the situation had improved after they increased deployments to cover all areas identified as hot spots of violence, which has been condemned by African governments.
A spate of violent attacks that broke out in Johannesburg city on Sunday and spread to the central business district on Monday saw the looting and destruction of more than 50 foreign-owned shops, while cars were torched and people were killed and injured.
The attacks come ahead of the African edition of the World Economic Forum which begins today in Cape Town, South Africa.
President Ramaphosa condemned the violence.
“There can be no justification whatsoever for our people to attack Africans from other countries. When they do so here they should know that fellow South Africans will also be attacked in other countries. We’re completely committed against xenophobia and we don’t tolerate such behaviour. It’s completely against the rule of law,” said President Ramaphosa.
“People running their businesses are being attacked and their shops are being looted and destroyed. This is completely against the ethos that we as South Africans espouse.”
He commended security forces, particularly the police for stopping further violence from ensuing in a number of places in KZN and Gauteng.
“We want our security forces to carry on doing the work that they’ve been doing and arresting the perpetrators.
“I’ll be convening the ministers in the security cluster today to make sure that we keep a close eye on these acts of wanton violence and find ways of stopping them,” he said.
Mr Makhura was quoted on News24 saying if necessary, he would consult President Ramaphosa and Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula for the deployment of soldiers to hotspots.
Mr Makhura said the Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni municipalities have been affected by the attacks on, looting of and damage to foreign-owned shops.
“We want to tell our people that police reinforcements are happening. We will not hesitate to call on the president and defence minister to reinforce the police. There is a xenophobic sentiment where other people are calling for foreigners to leave. There is no country in the world without foreigners,” he said.
In a statement yesterday, police spokesperson from the office of the provincial commissioner in Gauteng Colonel Lungelo Dlamini said a total of 189 people had been arrested since Sunday.
“Today the situation has been stabilised in parts of Tshwane, Ekurhuleni, Johannesburg Central, Jeppe and Cleveland policing areas. A total of 189 arrests have been effected since Sunday for criminal acts including public violence, malicious damage to property and theft. Five murders have also been reported, two in Coronationville, two in Hillbrow and one near the hostel at Jeppe,” said Col Dlamini.
He said criminal gangs had taken advantage of the chaotic situation due to the outbreak of the violence and were involved in breaking into businesses not only those belonging to foreigners but businesses in general.
Col Dlamini added that police were in the process of identifying leaders of the violent groups.
Media reports from the neighbouring country said Nigeria’s president Muhammadu Buhari had sent an envoy to South Africa to express the country’s displeasure over the treatment of Nigerians and other Africans.
President Buhari reportedly requested assurance of the safety of their lives. In a statement, Nigeria’s high commission in South Africa described the situation as “anarchy”, and has called on Nigerians to come forward to report what has happened to them.
President of Ghana, John Dramani, said what was happening in South Africa was most regrettable and unfortunate and evident that the youths in the country were not aware of their history. “I think the people of South Africa don’t know what happened before they gained their freedom. The whole of Africa stood behind South Africa to fight against apartheid.
“I remember all of us growing up as secondary school children we were part of the African youth command and we demonstrated against apartheid and boycotted classes,” said President Dramani.
During the apartheid in South Africa, he added, African countries, whose people are being brutalised today harboured South African freedom fighters, gave them passports and made sure they were safe. “Nigeria, even if it’s not a neighbour to South Africa was considered a front line state because of its economic contribution for the ANC to be able to liberate South Africa from apartheid. It’s regrettable that the same people who fought are being attacked in South Africa today, the pictures and videos are horrible.
“The unfortunate thing is that this is not the first time, it keeps happening. While we’re condemning the attacks, we must work with the South African government to ensure that this doesn’t happen again,” said President Dramani.
Zambia warned its truck drivers to stay out of the neighbouring country.
South Africa’s Police Minister, Bheki Cele, on Monday described the attacks as criminality.
In 2008 about 60 people were killed and over 50 000 were forced out of their homes while in 2015 seven people died in violence.
Migrants are seen as competition for scarce jobs and Government services.