School kids join widespread looting in Soweto

Groups of looters have been seen driving around the township vandalising foreign shops.

Four alleged looters are arrested in Rockville, Soweto on 22 January 2015. Picture: Dineo Bendile/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - It's been a day of looting and violence in Soweto where foreign shop owners have fled their businesses fearing for their lives but government says the situation is under control.

Groups of looters have been seen driving around the township vandalising foreign-owned shops.

Widespread looting has been reported in at least five main areas of Soweto with school children joining in and police using rubber bullets to disperse crowds.

Two people have been killed and 68 others arrested following widespread looting and protests.

Earlier, a woman was run over and injured by a car, allegedly being driven by angry looters in Rockville.

The police are trying to stop the looters but are battling as they are outnumbered.

Police have been on the ground since violence broke out on Monday when a 14-year-old teenager was shot and killed after being accused of robbing a shop.

Soweto residents say they're under attack by a group of teenagers who are taking revenge on foreign shop owners and they fear the violence will continue into the night.

Arrests have been made but it appears the officers are outnumbered because shops are being continuously attacked.

A shop owner says the looters are brazen.

"They had guns. One of them was holding it saying, 'move, move, move' and started running inside of the Pakistani's house."

Most foreigners have left the area while locals say they are bracing themselves for more violence this evening.

The Gauteng government has downplayed the current violence in Soweto, slamming the notion that the attacks are xenophobic and labelling them "pure criminal behaviour".

MEC for Community safety Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane says there is no need for panic because government has the situation under control.

While both police and government insists the violence is not xenophobic, the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) says it's very concerned the violence that erupted in 2008 will begin again.

The commission's Kayum Ahmed has appealed to South Africans to remember that foreigners are very important to the economy.

"Our message to South Africans is that foreign nationals are an important part to our society, they contribute to our economy, they are absolutely essential to the development of this country."

The commission has appealed for calm.