South African President Jacob Zuma on Thursday warned “those behind the ongoing xenophobic violence” to immediately stop or face the law.
Addressing members of parliament, Zuma said the police are working round the clock to protect both foreign nationals and citizens and to arrest looters and those committing acts of violence.
He condemned the ongoing attacks that have forced many foreign nationals to flee their homes and seek refuge at police stations in Kwazulu Natal and Gauteng provinces.
“No amount of frustration or anger can ever justify the attacks on foreign nationals and the looting of their shops,” Zuma said.
The recent spate of violence has so far claimed five lives and displaced thousands of foreigners.
Opposition parties in parliament also voiced their concern over the attacks and called on the government to swiftly put them to a stop.
“In 1994, (late) President Mandela made a commitment that never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience oppression of one by another,” said Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane in parliament.
Also on Thursday, thousands of foreign nationals and locals marched in the city of Durban, calling for an end to xenophobia violence.
Nevertheless, the violence kept spreading to other parts of the country.
In the city of Germiston, near Johannesburg, dozens of foreigners fled their homes to seek refuge at a local police station.
Zimbabwean national Nokwethemba Masuku told Xinhua she is extremely frustrated by the attacks.
“I am traumatized and now living in fear. Whenever I go out of the house I don’t know if I will return alive,” Masuku said.
“We plead with the South African government to protect us,” she said.
In Benoni, east of Johannesburg, police fired tear gas to displace rioting locals who had gathered to prepare for attacks on foreign nationals.
The foreigners under attack are mostly from Malawi, Somalia, Ethiopia, Nigeria and some other African countries.
Malawi and Kenya are making plans to evacuate their citizens from South Africa. Enditem