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Xenophobic violence fears spread to JHB as foreigners close shop doors

Several shops near the Noord taxi rank have closed their doors after rumours of xenophobic attacks spread.

Several shops near the Noord taxi Rank have closed their doors after rumours of xenophobic attacks spread. Picture: Mia Lindeque/EWN

JOHANNESBURG/CAPE TOWN - As police maintain a heavy presence in parts of KwaZulu-Natal to prevent further xenophobic attacks, there are eyewitness reports this morning of a possible flare-up of violence in the Johannesburg CBD.

Several shops near the Noord Street taxi rank have closed their doors after rumours of xenophobic attacks spread.

Foreign shop owners in the CBD have also closed their doors in a bid to protect their stock amid rumours circulating on social networks that attacks are imminent.

#JHBcbd At least 2 foreign nationals have told EWN they closed shops as police search for counterfeit goods. ML pic.twitter.com/YS3myamP4q

  • EWN Reporter (@ewnreporter) April 15, 2015 One shop owner has told Eyewitness News he was warned of possible attacks on foreign nationals today.

There have been reports of a mob moving through the CBD, but this stage the claims have not been verified

Police are nowhere to be seen and officials say they're unaware of any reports of violence in the city centre this morning.

An eyewitness earlier claimed that people were looting foreign-owned shops.

"The CBD was stable, but now people are actually coming and robbing people."

Another eyewitness said, "All the shops from Von Wielligh Street has been closed because the guys run into the shops and they start beating the people and customers that are in the shops.

On Tuesday, a message began circulating on social networks WhatsApp and Facebook warning of possible attacks against foreigners in Gauteng today.

The message reads:

"Xenophobic attack is just around the corner for the second time around JHB CBD and neighbouring areas like Alex,Olievenhoutbosch,Zandspruit,Msawawa,Cosmo city,Tembisa,Randburg,Princess,Kysand,Kaalfontein,Germiston,Benoni etc...The spokesperson for this Furious group honourable Khimzman Mquebulera warns his fellow South African on Wednesday not to ride the Bicycles as Malawians and Zimbabweans does,because this attack will be more destructive than ever before,pliz send this notice to ur all frinds to be in doors on Wednesday.Take ir serious our friends r killed like Coackroaches (sic)."

WATCH: Xenophobic violence rocks Durban CBD

National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega says more than 800 police officers have been deployed to various parts of KZN.

Several areas including, Umlazi and KwaMashu were affected by looting and violence in recent days before the unrest spread to the heart of Durban on Tuesday.

Government has said the attacks are a symptom of Afrophobia.

Phiyega says police officers have managed to restore stability to areas where flare ups have occurred.

"We have moved from Isipingo to Chatsworth to all other areas to the city and this thing is migrating."

Law enforcement officers have been mobilised from around the country, to deal with the unrest in KZN but Phiyega says day-to-day crime fighting efforts are not suffering.

"If we have the capacity to respond, we shall respond accordingly. Our issue is to ensure that we save lives, secondly, that we restore stability."

She maintains her officers are coping.

Meanwhile, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says it's been inundated with calls from foreigners who fear for their safety.

WATCH: Massive police presence in Durban CBD