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‘Locals are reluctant to accept different cultures’

Foreigners in KZN accused locals of being unwilling to accept different people and cultures in South Africa.

A man grimaces in pain after being shot with a rubber bullet in the Durban city centre because of a standoff between foreign shop owners and locals in Durban on 14 April 2015. Picture: Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

DURBAN - Foreigners in Durban on Tuesday accused locals of being unwilling to accept different people and cultures in South Africa.

As officers patrolled Durban's streets to prevent a flare up of violence, Police Minister Nathi Nhleko said Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini was not responsible for fuelling anti-foreigner sentiments in the province.

Zwelithini has been largely blamed for the anti-foreigner sentiment after he reportedly told a gathering that foreigners should "pack their bags and go home".

Thousands armed themselves on Mahatma Gandhi Road in Durban's CBD threatening to take on locals who had been attacking them.

Foreigners barricaded the road and police moved in firing rubber bullets, water cannons and tear gas to disperse them.

There was a lot of emotion in the area on Tuesday evening as scrums of people grouped themselves together discussed what had happened.

Some spoke about peace and what Mandela would say if he were alive, while others spoke about the battle and defending themselves.

Heavily armed police arrived later in the afternoon and searched people for weapons, trying to get them to disperse.

According to eyewitnesses, the tension was almost electric.

LISTEN: Why are they attacking us?

Earlier, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said all resources should be exhausted before the South African National Defence Force was brought in to quell the xenophobic violence in KwaZulu-Natal.

At least five people were been killed in violence that hit areas including KwaMashu and Umlazi over the past two weeks.

Government initiated an inter-departmental task team and a 24-hour call centre as part of its approach to deal with attacks on foreign nationals in parts of the province.

Mapisa-Nqakula said the defence force has not been trained to deal with crowd control.

"The police must maximise all their resources. If we are to consider bringing in the defence force then we must also consider the consequences."

ZIM RESPONDS TO XENOPHOBIA

Zimbabwe's Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, meanwhile, warning that xenophobia in South Africa could easily turn into genocide.

Moyo is one of the first government ministers in Zimbabwe to speak up against the violence, which has left Zimbabweans back home shaken and angry.

He has blamed Zwelithini for sparking the violence, saying he needed to "extinguish what he started".

The xenophobic attacks in South Africa dominated conversation on Zimbabwe's social networking sites and there had been calls for locals to boycott a show by South African music group Big Nuz this week.

Other Zimbabweans discussed whether to boycott South African food and drink.

All pictures by Vumani Mkhize/EWN.

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