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Xenophobic attacks: Zuma calls for calm

President Jacob Zuma has spoken out in the National Assembly against the recent spate of attacks.

Police getting ready to move into a hostel in Johannesburg. Picture: Mia Lindeque/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma has appealed for calm this afternoon in the wake of xenophobic attacks in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

He has spoken out in the National Assembly against the recent spate of attacks on immigrants which has left at least five people dead.

"No amount of frustration or anger can ever justify the attacks on foreign nationals and the looting of their shops," says Zuma.

Zuma says South Africa stands firmly against xenophobia.

"The attacks violate all the values that South Africa embodies, especially respect for human rights, human dignity and Ubuntu."

At the same time, KwaZulu-Natal Premier Senzo Mchunu called for mutual respect between South Africans and foreign nationals in Durban and asked for an end to the violent xenophobic attacks.

Mchunu today led a march by more than ten thousand people through Durban's city centre calling for peace.

Mchunu says the march is also aimed at bringing about stability in the province.

"Let us say in one voice, no to xenophobia, no to attacks to foreign national. We must respect each other. We want stability in this province and in our country."

Meanwhile, foreign nationals have been warned not to re-open their shops in Actonville amid fears of more violence in the area.

Police have used stun grenades, tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd of locals.

Police say its joint operational centres will help crack down on the ongoing flare ups of xenophobic violence.

Police searching the hostels in Actonville. Picture: Mia Lindeque/EWN

Authorities announced this morning that additional crime intelligence operatives will be deployed to help collect information and the centres will be run on a 24 hour basis.

At least five people, including a 14-year-old boy have been killed in the ongoing wave of violence in KwaZulu-Natal with tensions spilling over into Gauteng.

In the latest flare up on the East Rand, police fired rubber bullets to disperse a group of people who've been demanding that foreign nationals leave the area.

The crowd hurled bottles and stones at officers and journalists and threatened motorists with sticks.

Detectives handling xenophobia-related cases have also been instructed to work closely with prosecutors to ensure convictions.

The police's Solomon Makgale said, "At the joint operation centres, assessors who will then assess the information that is coming through from the intelligence operatives that they can guide the response to the attacks."

One man says foreigners are making it difficult for locals to get jobs.

"They come with their drugs, they rob the people and they kill the people. They are bad for South Africa."

Around 10,000 people taking part in a march in Durban arrived at the City Hall. Picture: Govan Whittles.

Earlier, around 10 000 who took part in a march in Durban arrived at the City Hall, where the province's Premier Senzo Mchunu was expected to speak out against xenophobia.

The march was organised in response to the violent attacks on foreign business owners that led to five people being killed.

The Southern African Roman Catholic Church said it was saddened by the outburst of xenophobic attacks and called for Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini to categorically condemn the violence publicly.

Archbishop William Slattery said, "We ask government to take leadership on the issue by confronting those who are in leadership of this violent movement because it cannot be without its leaders but we also ask foreigners to expatriate themselves to avoid being involved in any unfair labour practices."

The large crowd was made up of South Africans and foreigners NGOs, church groups and politicians. Picture: Govan Whittles.

At the same time, State Security Minister David Mahlobo appealed to the nation to refrain from peddling misinformation and has moved to assure the country that government was doing all it could to fight the scourge of xenophobia that's erupted in parts of KZN.

He addressed the 10,000 people who marched through the streets of the Durban CBD in protest of the attacks on foreigners.

Meanwhile, the Kenyan and Malawian governments said they were making plans to evacuate their nationals living in South Africa fearing for their safety due to xenophobia.

Kenyan Foreign Affairs Minister Amina Mohamed told a local radio station there were no casualties so far but that a number of nationals had been moved to makeshift camps for their own safety.

In 2008, Kenyans living in South Africa were asked to report to their countries' embassy after foreigners living in this country were attacked.

Meanwhile, Malawi is the only country which has so far decided to repatriate its citizens. The government says the first group will return at the weekend.

About 420 Malawians are reportedly living in refugee camps in Durban after fleeing the violence.

African Union (AU) chairperson Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has expressed deep concerns about attacks on foreigners and has called for an immediate halt to the violence.

She has described the violence in KwaZulu-Natal as unacceptable saying no circumstance justify the attacks on people, whether foreigners or locals, and calling for an immediate halt to the attacks.

She has welcomed the interventions from the South African government.

This includes the deployment of an inter-ministerial committee in KZN and the rolling out of more police to provide protection and keep law and order.

Dlamini Zuma has also appealed for dialogue saying the challenges of poverty and unemployment faced in South Africa are faced by all countries on the continent.

For all the latest on xenophobic attacks around the country follow EWN's live blog.

WATCH: President Jacob Zuma will address the nation.

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