South African President Jacob Zuma canceled an official visit to Indonesia Saturday to deal with anti-immigrant violence in his country. Police made arrests and stepped up their presence around Durban and Johannesburg, where the unrest was concentrated Friday night. Zuma plans to meet with representatives of immigrant communities affected by the violence.
Demonstrators attacked foreign-owned businesses and lit cars afire in Johannesburg, as protesters did March 30, the first night of unrest in South Africa. Police responded with rubber bullets while arresting at least 30 people for offenses such as “public violence, malicous damage to property, house breaking and theft,” a representative told Agence France-Presse. Police urged people to refrain from spreading unverified information about attacks on foreigners via social media to prevent unwarranted panic, BBC News reported.
Is this South Africa pple. so Sad God help us. Africa is one jamani. Let us praying hard together. pic.twitter.com/E4j52bz73G
â€” kevoohard (@kevoohard) April 18, 2015
A local man gestures with a stick at a hostel during anti-immigrant violence in Johannesburg, South Africa April 17 pic.twitter.com/bAxoookzJH
â€” Reuters Africa (@ReutersAfrica) April 18, 2015
The wave of violence has led thousands of immigrants to flee to emergency refugee camps and prompted South Africa’s neighbors Malawi and Zimbabwe to bus their nationals out of the country.
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe condemned the violence Saturday on behalf of his nation, the Southern African Development Community and the Africa Union. “I would want now to express our shock, disgust as we abhor the incidences which happened in Durban,” Mugabe said.
About 200 Zimbabweans demonstrated outside the South African embassy in Harare against the violence and handed to Deputy Ambassador to Zimbabwe Andy Makwabe a petition signed by 31 civic organizations calling on his government to do more to stop the violence. Protesters clashed with police, but there were no reports of serious injuries.
The large-scale violence in South Africa began less than a week after Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini asked that “those who come from outside to please go back to their countries” in a public address March 24. He spoke specifically about immigrants who open shops and settle down in South Africa. After being harshly criticized by South African politicians, Zwelithini backtracked and said his comments were misconstrued. Meanwhile, four people have been killed in the past two weeks.