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'Govt was warned of potential xenophobic violence'

Academics at Wits University said they weren't surprised by the latest attacks on foreigners.

FILE: A foreign national holds a knife following clashes between a group of locals and police in Durban on 14 April 2015. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Academics on Thursday said they repeatedly warned government about another potential wave of xenophobic violence in the country, but officials failed to respond.

The African Centre for Migration and Society at Wits University said it wasn't surprised by the latest attacks on foreigners.

It said South Africans had been sent a message that those responsible for this violence could get away with it.

LISTEN: 'My fear is government will forget about combating xenophobia'

The centre's Professor Ingrid Palmary said they'd have met with government officials regularly and issued repeated warnings about xenophobic violence.

"It's also important to say that the attacks didn't end in 2008, but in fact they have been ongoing attacks every year."

LISTEN: 'Corporate SA can't remain silent on xenophobia'

She said nothing has changed since the last wave of xenophobia in 2008 and that there hasn't been one successful prosecution since then.

"And I think this is precisely why we should have anticipated that this would happen again, the message wasn't sent very strongly to South Africans that 'you will get away with this kind of violence'."

Palmary also criticized the country's leadership for failing to respond with clarity and a unified message.

WATCH: Xenophobic violence rocks Durban CBD

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