The ANC and its alliance partner Cosatu have condemned a recent spate of violence against foreigners in Port Elizabeth, Diepsloot and Orange Farm.
“The xenophobic violence incidents of 2008 are a lesson all of us must constantly draw from to foster unity and cohesion amongst our communities,” African National Congress spokesperson Jackson Mthembu said in a statement on Thursday.
“Regardless of what the cause of these violent protests may be, the ANC condemns any attacks on members of society, irrespective of nationality,” he said.
Mthembu said the police needed to be stern and to act decisively against those who were involved in acts of vandalism, intimidation and any other public disorder.
The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) said it was opposed to any hostility to people of a different race or nationality.
It warned that unemployment would make the situation worse.
“These economic refugees compete with the millions of unemployed South Africans for too few jobs,” it said in a statement.
“In any society, mass unemployment… creates conditions for xenophobic attacks.”
On Thursday, Eastern Cape police said a Somali man had been stabbed to death in Greenfields, Port Elizabeth – the third murder in the area this week.
He was stabbed in the head, chest and abdomen, Captain Stanley Jarvis said.
“It is alleged that a group of people went to the Somalian’s residence and there was a confrontation between them and the Somalian.”
The man was taken to hospital, where he died. The motive for the attack was not known and no arrests had been made.
Police said the attack was not linked to protests in the northern areas of Port Elizabeth.
Jarvis said a case of murder and public violence had been opened.
Police patrolled informal settlements in the northern part of Port Elizabeth on Thursday, after two days of unrest.
The unrest was sparked by the murders of two men and the arrests of community leaders.
On Tuesday, police arrested three Greenfields and Vastrap community leaders for the murders of two men accused of robbing a spaza shop.
The three appeared in the Port Elizabeth Magistrate’s Court on Wednesday. The case was postponed to June 6. The two murdered men were not foreigners.
After the arrests, residents blockaded roads with rocks, poles, bushes, bricks, and burning tyres, said Jarvis.
Police used rubber bullets and stun grenades to disperse the crowd. Twelve people – five minors and seven adults – were arrested. They appeared in court on Wednesday and were released on a warning.
On Wednesday, violence flared in Cleary Park and Timothy Valley. Jarvis said this was a spill-over from Greenfields and Vastrap.
Timothy Valley residents also looted shops and barricaded roads. Police helped Somalian shop owners to pack their goods, and escorted them to places of safety. Jarvis said most residents had returned to their homes on Thursday.
“Here and there, there are incidents of people still thinking of looting… [but] this is being addressed by police,” he said.
Violence in Diepsloot, north of Johannesburg, started on Sunday, when Somalian Bishar Isaack (39) allegedly shot dead two Zimbabweans outside his shop when they tried to rob him.
Gauteng police spokesperson Lt-Col Lungelo Dlamini said residents later stoned and looted the shop, and looted several other shops.
In the Vaal, police received around 100 complaints of looting and vandalism of shops belonging to foreigners and South Africans, following service delivery protests in the area last week.
Scores of people were arrested for the attacks in both areas. Dlamini said Diepsloot was quiet on Thursday following the violence. Police deployed in the area would remain there until satisfied the situation had returned to normal, he said.
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