- According to the police, five people have lost their lives since Sunday, and 189 people had been arrested.
- President Ramaphosa condemned the attacks, calling them "totally unacceptable."
- Several African leaders criticized the xenophobic attacks, including the President of the African Union Commission and President of Nigeria.
Five people were killed in a wave of xenophobic violence that has rocked South Africa since Saturday. The country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, has condemned the attacks, calling them “totally unacceptable.” Close to two hundred suspected perpetrators of the attacks and looting have been arrested.
On Tuesday, police fired rubber bullets to disperse hundreds of people in the center of the country’s capital city, Johannesburg, some of whom were armed with crude weapons, including machetes and axes. The security forces also scared off small groups in the township of Alexandra, next to the financial district of Sandton, to stop further looting of supposed immigrant-run businesses.
Police said that since Sunday, five people have so far lost their lives in Johannesburg, the epicenter of the violence. They also announced that they had made 189 arrests and deployed reinforcements in the most sensitive areas of the economic capital.
President Ramaphosa condemned the attacks Tuesday. “Attacks against foreign merchants are totally unacceptable,” he said. “I want this to stop immediately.” Ramaphosa also tweeted, saying ”the people of our country want to live in harmony; whatever concerns or grievances we may have, we need to handle them in a democratic way. There can be no justification for any South African to attack people from other countries.”
He also said that he had summoned his cabinet at an emergency meeting in regard to the attacks. “I’m convening the ministers in the security cluster today to make sure that we keep a close eye on these acts of wanton violence and find ways of stopping them,” the South Africa president said.
In addition to the fatalities, the three days of violence have caused a lot of property damage. Dozens of shops were attacked in the country’s major cities of Johannesburg and Pretoria, and several trucks, allegedly driven by foreigners, were burned in the northeast province of KwaZulu-Natal. South Africa, the most prosperous economy in Sub-Saharan Africa, frequently experiences xenophobic attacks that are mostly fueled by poverty and the high unemployment rates in the country.
Several African leaders criticized the xenophobic attacks. Among them, the President of the African Union (AU) Commission, Mussa Faki Mahamat, as well as the Nigerian head of state, Muhamadu Buhari, who said that he was “very worried” about these attacks against African migrants, especially those from his country.
On Monday, his government threatened to take “decisive action” against South Africa. “The continuing attacks on Nigerian nationals and businesses in South Africa are unacceptable. Enough is enough. Nigeria will take definitive measures to ensure the safety and protection of its citizens.”
The wave of violence and looting broke out Sunday night after the death of three people in a fire, of which the causes are still unknown, in a building in downtown Johannesburg. The violence then spread to other neighborhoods of the city and then to Pretoria, about 60 kilometers away.