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South African rior police arrest 156 as xenophobic attacks return | Coastweek

PRETORIA South Africa (Xinhua) -- Local residents [left] take part in a protest in Pretoria, South Africa. A riot policeman [right] shoots rubber bullets to disperse protesters in Pretoria. Clashes between local people and foreigners broke out here on Friday after a new wave of xenophobic violence erupted in parts of the country as a result of growing disgruntlement among local residents over foreign nationals who are blamed for taking up employment that should otherwise belong to locals. XINHUA PHOTOS - ZHAI JIANLAN

South African riot police arrest 156 as xenophobic attacks return

by Ndumiso Mlilo PRETORIA South Africa (Xinhua) -- The South African Police Service (SAPS) said Friday they have arrested 156 people since last night following the resurgence of anti-foreigner sentiments.

While addressing the media in Pretoria, Acting Police National Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane said, South Africans started burning tyres around 5:00 a.m. on Friday in Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria calling for the foreigners to leave the country.

This was followed by the march by a group calling itself "Mamelodi Concerned Residents".

They said the foreigners are responsible for criminal activities in the country.

Lieutenant General Phahlane said the march had been approved and they were monitoring it. He said the situation is calm and the police are in control.

He said, "This march follows periodic violence and looting over the past week.

"The law enforcement acted speedily in arresting 156 people since last night.

"SAPS have exercised maximum restraint and they have also contained violence.

"We caution those engaging in violence that law enforcement will not hesitate to act."

He said the police exercised maximum restraint during the march with some marchers from Atteridgeville throwing stones.

Phahlane said they had to use proportional force to diffuse the situation.

He warned that those committing crime will be arrested.

He encouraged people not to spread fake news.

Some have been spreading news on social media about impending attacks on foreigners.

Phahlane said they will beef up their operations and maintain visibility in the advent of xenophobia.

The Portfolio Committee on Police called on South Africans on Friday not to take law into their own hands but to follow the law.

The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Police, Francois Beukman said while people have a right to raise their concerns, they must act within the confines of the law.

He said, "It is the Constitutional duty of the South African Police Service (SAPS) to protect and secure the inhabitants of South Africa and their property.

"As such, the Committee will support the necessary steps the SAPS will undertake to maintain law and order."

Beukman said some occurrences in Pretoria show that the law was being broken and called on the police to arrest those found on the wrong side of the law.

He said, "The Constitution places an obligation on all South Africans to respect and live in harmony with all communities, whether they are foreign or local."

Mamelodi Concerned Residents marched Friday through the streets of Pretoria attacking foreigners telling them to return to their countries accusing them of dealing in drugs and stealing jobs.

Some foreigners also grouped and vowed to defend themselves in the Pretoria City Centre. Police had to fire rubber bullets to disperse the two groups.

Journalists were also injured by the rubber bullets when the police fired.

The march was criticized by many in the country.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation said the government, civil society and all stake holders should tackle xenophobia, and Pretoria should not have permitted the anti-foreigners march.

The Nelson Mandela Foundation CEO Sello Hatanga said:

"The measures of who belongs and who doesn’t that we see being thrown around so recklessly are deeply problematic.

"I am beginning to feel ‘othered’, as my father’s family has its roots in Lesotho and my mother’s in Botswana."

The Congress of South Africans Trade Unions (Cosatu) in Gauteng also criticized the anti-foreigner sentiments. Cosatu said the march against foreigners have a regime change agenda, and xenophobia is as a result of socio-economic challenges like unemployment facing the country.

Amos Monyela, Cosatu provincial chairperson said:

"We call all the Gauteng citizens to desist from these heinous actions against our African brothers and sisters.

"We want to remind all citizens that during the liberation struggle our forebears found protection outside South Africa until political freedom was attained."

Cosatu called on the police to take act fast and arrest those attacking foreigners.

Cosatu also encouraged government to have "sober immigration policy" and address the unemployment in the country.


Zuma urges South Africans not to blame all criminal activities on foreigners

CAPE TOWN South Africa (Xinhua) -- South African President Jacob Zuma on Friday appealed to the country’s citizens not to blame all criminal activities on non-nationals.

"Many citizens of other countries living in South Africa are law abiding and contribute to the economy of the country positively," Zuma said amid a new wave of xenophobic violence that is gripping some townships.

It is wrong to brandish all non-nationals as drug dealers or human traffickers, Zuma noted.

"Let us isolate those who commit such crimes and work with government to have them arrested, without stereotyping and causing harm to innocent people," he added.

However, Zuma said there are real concerns by South Africans in many areas about serious crimes that are destabilizing communities.

Also on Friday, a march took place in Pretoria West against illegal immigrants following violence in the area, where some people were reported to be stopping vehicles from leaving the township.

In other areas, ambulances are prevented from fetching sick people to take them to hospital and delivery vans have to be escorted by police when entering the townships.

"Our people cannot continue to live in fear like this," said Zuma.

The latest developments have prompted Zuma to champion the fight against crime in order to promote safer and more stable communities, in light of several complaints from communities about drug trafficking and abuse and other serious crimes which cause fear among many residents in the country, his office said.

The situation has become more serious in light of current threats of violence and acts of intimidation and destruction of property directed at non-nationals living in South Africa, Zuma said.

Residents in some communities blame non-nationals for the escalating crimes especially drug trafficking and rising unemployment.

Violence against foreigners erupted in Pretoria West and nearby Rosettenville earlier this month.

There is also simmering tension that has been reported in other areas including the dissemination of hate speech and threatening messages via social media.

Zuma strongly condemned the acts of violence and called upon citizens and non-nationals to exercise restraint, unite against crime and work with the authorities to bring perpetrators of crime to book.

He said the government has also noted the complaints of South Africans about companies that employ illegal immigrants.

Zuma reiterated that the Department of Home Affairs will be cracking down on all employers who continue with this practice, which is dangerous as it pits locals against non-nationals.

The president reaffirmed his assertion that South Africans are not xenophobic and that the problems they are raising with respect to crime will be attended to.

He called from unity among citizens and non-nationals to fight crime.

"The threats and counter-threats on social media must stop.

"All must exercise restraint, respect the laws of the land and work together to fight crime and build safer communities," the president said.


South Africa targets unethical businesses that employ illegal immigrants

South African rior police arrest 156 as xenophobic attacks return | Coastweek

PRETORIA South Africa (Xinhua) -- Policemen arrest activists during an anti-immigrant march in Pretoria, South Africa . Police arrested 136 people in Pretoria West over the past 24 hours, including during an anti-immigrant march in Pretoria, South African Police Service Acting National Commissioner Khomotso Phahlane said on Friday. XINHUA PHOTO - ZHAI JIANLAN


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