South Africa: President Ramaphosa condemns xenophobic violence


South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa has condemned attacks against foreign nationals in the country.

On Monday and Tuesday, South Africans looted foreigners’ shops and torched vehicles. They also targeted trucks driven by foreign nationals.

The South African president said on Tuesday there can be no justification for any South African to attack people from other countries.

“Attacks on businesses run by “foreign nationals is something totally unacceptable, something that we cannot allow to happen in South Africa,” Ramaphosa said in a video posted to Twitter.

“I want it to stop immediately,” he added.

On Tuesday, crowds of people plundered shops and set fire to buildings for a second day in the country’s commercial capital, Johannesburg.

Police fired rubber bullets in the township of Alexandra on Tuesday morning, a day after clashing with looters who local media said targeted foreign-owned businesses in several parts of the city.

The chaos started on Sunday when an old building in Johannesburg caught fire and collapsed, killing at least three people. It then spread to two eastern suburbs and to the executive capital, Pretoria, where shops owned by foreigners were set on fire.

Truck drivers in the southeastern province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) also started a nationwide strike on Sunday to protest against the employment of foreign drivers.

Police said 11 trucks blocked the road to Richards Bay Harbour, one of the deepest natural harbours in Africa, and at least four vehicles were torched.

In response to the attacks, Zambia’s transport ministry on Monday told Zambian truck drivers to avoid travelling to South Africa until the security situation improves.

Meanwhile, the South African government says 20 people have been arrested in KwaZulu-Natal while 70 arrests have been made in other areas in connection to the attacks on foreigners.

The government in a statement called for calm and condemned looting of shops, destruction of properties and illegal blocking of roads.

“We are a democratic state that promotes robust dialogue and engagement with the dissatisfied communities. As government, we will not allow anarchy and violence to be the order of the day. We commend the quick response of the South African Police Services (SAPS) which has resulted in the arrest of a number of individuals,” the government said.

South Africa is a major destination for economic migrants from other parts of the continent, including Malawians who trek to the Rainbow nation to search of work.