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Foreigners plead for stronger action against xenophobia

The police minister says there's no need to call the military to assist with monitoring xenophobic hotspots.

FILE: Foreign nationals in Jeppestown are pleading with police officers to take stronger action against xenophobia. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - As police brace for another night of potential xenophobic attacks, foreign nationals in Jeppestown are pleading with police officers to take stronger action against hostel dwellers who are once again threatening more violence on the streets of Johannesburg CBD.

There is no sign of foreigners in the volatile area this evening as Nyalas, armed policemen and metro officers patrol the hotspot.

A Zimbabwean man who wants to stay anonymous has told Eyewitness News he had been informed that locals are planning to come back to his business and cause further damage.

His workshop was partially set alight. He says the irony is that he is employing South Africans as well as providing them with shelter.

"To suggest everything is under control is complete nonsense. Upstairs there is accommodation for about 50 people. Around 45 of them are South African and only five are foreign."

Earlier, journalists were threatened by hostel dwellers, once again vowing that more violence will erupt later.

Meanwhile, foreign nationals in the point area in Durban's inner city say they are encouraged by a visit by Mayor James Nxumalo and hope the locals who attacked them earlier this week will not return.

Nxumalo today led a walkabout through the area where the clashes played out this week accompanied by a large police contingent to call for peace.

The residents of Point Road were from across the African continent and cheered Nxumalo as he said police would remain present in the area.

One Nigerian man says he must tell locals to allow them back into communities.

"The message has been delivered. We hope those people won't be coming back, we hope they are going to respect the agreement."

But his friend says the mayor should return to the point area with King Goodwill Zwelithini.

"He is the one who started all of this so he must come back to apologise to the foreigners."

The police will remain in the area throughout the night.

WATCH: Durban mayor addresses residents.

At the same time, Police Minister Nkosinathi Nhleko says there is no need to call the military for assistance with monitoring xenophobic hotspots.

However, the ministry says it will comply should the president decide to call in the South African National Defence Force (SANDF).

Spokesperson Musa Zondi says police are better equipped to handle social conflict than the military.

"The minister feels it's not yet time to deploy the defence force. The defence force in its nature is not made for civil engagement, they are made for war. And there is still capability and capacity within the police."

The Black Business Council says the current xenophobic violence represents a glimpse into what could be South Africa's darkest chapter.

The Council's Sandile Zungu says there is no justification to these attacks.

"We would have never anticipated that our people would become monsters, who think spilling the blood of other human beings has got any justification whatsoever."

Zungu has urged local business people not to get involved in the violence.

"We would like to appeal to all South Africans, in particular to our members who see the emergence of this phenomenon of foreign-owned business as a threat, to please refrain from activities that are despicable as what we have seen in the last couple of days."

International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, on the other hand, says the security and economic clusters are putting measures in place to prevent any further xenophobic attacks.

African diplomats met in Pretoria to discuss the violence.

Dean of the diplomatic core Ben Mpoko said like the end of apartheid, Africa heads will bring an end to the xenophobia before it spreads.

He said the diplomats have agreed that the violence in South Africa effects the whole continent.

"The first message is that we recognise that what's happened today is not a good thing for the continent. That we must stop it."

He says there is a strong commitment from all African states to stop the scourge before it spreads to other countries.

"We as Africans and South Africans, we are going to work together to end this."

Mpoko says there will be structures in place to help the displaced foreigners and the security clusters to prevent further attacks.

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