'Community patrollers should prevent looting'

Safety MEC launched the anti-mob justice campaign in Diepsloot following widespread violence.

Port Elizabeth residents allegedly torched foreign-owned shops and a bus on 30 May 2013. Picture: Siyabonga Sesant/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Gauteng Community Safety MEC Faith Mazibuko said on Thursday it's up to community safety ambassadors to discourage looting of foreign-owned shops in townships.

Mazibuko visited the Diepsloot informal settlement on Thursday to relaunch the anti mob justice campaign and meet with residents following widespread looting in the area this week.

Two Zimbabwean nationals were killed at the hands of a Somali shopkeeper in the informal settlement on Sunday provoking violent protests in the community and fears xenophobia attacks may have returned.

A total of 45 people have since been arrested.

She said sometimes patrollers are able to get to the scene before police and it's up to them to ensure things don't get out of hand.

"Community patrolling plays an important role because they can discourage members of the community, especially the criminal element."

Meanwhile, the situation in two informal settlements in Port Elizabeth remains calm after foreign-owned shops were looted and a Somali man was killed.

Police said they were maintaining a strong presence in the Timothy Valley and Booysens Park areas.

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

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