Recent foreign national attacks xenophobia

While the Human Rights Cesource Council says it may be cabinet has said it doesn’t want to label it as such.

Two Zimbabweans were shot dead by a Somalian shopkeeper in Diepsloot, Johannesburg. Picture: Govan Whittles/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - The Human Rights Commission of South Africa (HRC) said on Thursday it is concerned by the recent flare-up of what appears to be xenophobic attacks in parts of the country.

Several people have been arrested for attacks on foreign nationals in parts of Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth this week.

HRC CEO, Kayum Ahmed, said he hopes the attacks on foreign nationals in, among others, Diepsloot and Port Elizabeth, don't escalate like they did in 2008.

At the time more than 60 people were killed when local residents turned on foreigners in their communities.

"Following the 2008 attacks we must make various recommendations to government and we hope that those recommendations are going to be enforced to prevent these sorts of attacks from taking place again."

Ahmed said they've deployed a team to Diepsloot and Orange Farm in Johannesburg to assess the situation.

He said that at this stage they can't tell whether the violence is in fact xenophobia or if it's simply criminal activity.

Meanwhile, cabinet has urged communities to be on their guard against more violence targeting foreign nationals.

Forty five people have been arrested since violence broke out in Diepsloot on Sunday evening following the shooting of two Zimbabwean nationals by a Somali shop-owner.

Cabinet discussed the matter when it met in Cape Town on Wednesday.

Public Service Minister Lindiwe Sisulu briefed journalists at parliament on Thursday where she said cabinet doesn't want to stamp the violence as xenophobia.

"Cabinet calls on communities to be vigilant against possible violence targeting foreign nationals. Cabinet is careful not to label these acts of violence as xenophobic because preliminary evidence indicate these acts may be driven by criminality."