A border post separating South Africa and Mozambique was closed Friday after a group of Mozambicans barricaded the area on reports of shots having been fired. The mob of about 200 people shut down a truck stop about five miles away from the Mozambique town of Ressano Garcia in what was reported as a response to xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
The Corridor Gazette in South Africa reported that the shots originated on the Mozambique side of the border, adding that a crowd demanded that no South Africans enter Mozambique and sought to dissuade fellow Mozambicans from entering South Africa. A source reportedly said the situation escalated Friday morning, and two shots were fired when a vehicle tried to pass through the group. It is unclear if there were any injuries.
The crowd was throwing stones at trucks with South African plates and barricaded the N4 -- a South Africa-to-Mozambique toll road -- causing the closure of the Lebombo Border Post.
“There was a huge crowd of people with big sticks and stones," said Mie Bergman, a Swedish national living in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, to the Citizen. "They were throwing rocks at SA-registered trucks. The crowd let us pass because we had a Mozambican-registered car.”
The crowds began to gather Thursday in response to the xenophobic attacks. At least five non-South Africans, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed in the past week during a string of attacks in the South African city of Durban in the KwaZulu-Natal province.
A source told the Corridor Gazette that the atmosphere at the Lebombo post was "tense," but that eventually traffic again began to move slowly. The Citizen reported that cars had begun to cross the border, said Constable Laurence Ntuli of the Lebombo Border Post.
Xenophobic attacks have rocked South Africa recently, but some groups have started to respond. About 5,000 people, including religious leaders, protested the attacks Thursday during a march in Durban. Al Jazeera reported that Colonel Jay Naicker, a police spokesman, said there have been 74 people arrested since the end of March in connection to the attacks.