State Security minister: We're working to bring xenophobia instigators to book

David Mahlobo says the instigators behind xenophobia are trying to hurt SA's image.

Police used live ammunition to scare off the protesters during a flare-up of xenophobic violence in central Johannesburg CBD on 17 April 2015. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

DURBAN - State Security Minister David Mahlobo has told Eyewitness News that government is working to stop the "instigators" fuelling xenophobic attacks in several parts of the country.

Speaking on the sidelines of a peace march in Durban yesterday, Mahlobo said: "We know, that there are instigators in those various communities and these are the individuals that we are going to bring them to book [sic]. Citizens they will never wake up in the morning and embark on an action, someone will start that particular action [sic]. We'll have to be able to deal with that."

At least five people have been killed in the latest wave of xenophobic violence which started in and around Durban last week. Outbreaks of violence have since been witnessed in several parts of Gauteng.

The minister said the efforts behind the xenophobic violence, defacing of statues and illegal land occupation was becoming "very coordinated".

When asked if there was commonality between the protests, Mahlobo said: "There is a common thing of lawlessness and people trying to hurt the reputation of the country."

He says intelligence agencies from the military, the State Security Department and police have been working together to identify the people behind the attacks.

Mahlobo made reference to the messages that circulated on WhatsApp and Facebook, warning of imminent attacks.

One of the messages 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)."

Mahlobo said these type of messages are merely an effort by instigators to spread panic.

"These prank messages is a coordinated effort but the intelligence officers say, as I have said, there are instigators in those various communities.[sic]"

He also says the instigators have a hand in the defacement of statues.

"The attacks on foreign nationals and the defacement of statues, it's becoming very coordinated and we're keeping our eyes wide open. People want to degrade the reputation of the country."

LISTEN: _ State Security Minister says government is working to stop the instigators behind the xenophobic violence._

At the same time, police have had their hands full using live ammunition, teargas and rubber bullets in central Johannesburg CBD overnight in the latest flare-up of xenophobic violence.

Officers tried to prevent angry mobs from looting foreign-owned businesses.

Locals in Jeppestown and Cleveland blocked roads with rocks and burning tyres ordering foreigners to leave the country.

Tempers flared with police resorting to deadly force to disperse angry groups of people.

A number of shops in the CBD were looted and vandalised which forced some foreign business owners to return to their shops to protect them.

Police also raided several local homes including hostels searching for stolen goods and deadly weapons.

WATCH: Xenophobia hits Benoni