Xenophobic attacks: Cops on high alert in JHB CBD

Police have been battling looting & violence in in Jeppestown, Malvern & surrounding areas for two nights.

Police had their hands full in the Johannesburg CBD on 17 April 2015 in the latest flare-up of xenophobic violence. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Police are on high alert in the Johannesburg CBD after two consecutive nights of rubber bullets, looting and violence in Jeppestown, Malvern and surrounding areas, forcing a shutdown of the M2 Highway.

Locals protested into the early hours of this morning, demanding foreigners leave the area.

They tried to barricade the N2-West highway with rocks but police retaliated with rubber bullets.

WATCH: An elderly woman from Jeppestown tells EWN they want Nigerians out

The police's Lungelo Dlamini says, "At this stage we believe this group of people start the attacks during the night. But we're going to increase our deployments when the night falls."

WATCH: Xenophobic Attacks: On the front line in Johannesburg

Meanwhile, a Malvern business owner says although police are doing their best to quell the violence, they seem to be overwhelmed.

"They're literally destroying what they destroyed the previous night. The police cannot contain the situation; they're using rubber bullets, these people are barricading themselves with pieces of zinc and metal that they're ripping off the shop fronts."

Local businesses looted in Malvern where xenophobic attacks have spread. Picture: iWitness: Donoven Steven


And, as the death toll from xenophobia linked violence has now risen to six, in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), eThekwini Mayor James Nxumalo is planning walkabouts in refugee camps as well as townships, where locals launched attacks on foreign nationals.

Reports of violent attacks on foreigners have dramatically decreased in the province since a peace march held in the City Centre, where KZN Premier Senzo Mchunu and religious leaders appealed for calm, and called on Africans to unite.

Nxumalo also visited the Durban Point area on Friday, where locals barricaded the road and clashed with foreign nationals earlier this week.

WATCH: Xenophobic violence: Durban mayor addresses residents

Foreign nationals from North and West Africa appeared very relieved by the mayor's visit to Point Road on Friday, and say they are eager to reintegrate into township communities, but only if it's safe.

Some of them say they've been effectively restricted to the inner city as they fear using public transport.

Nxumalo says he is conducting walkabouts in the area to assure people that police will keep them safe.

"We don't want anyone to instigate anyone, whether that person is a South African or non-South African because for us is to make sure that we begin the process of normalising the situation, so that we can start the process of reintegration of some of the people who may be coming from other areas."

While the mayor visits these sites, governments sent from Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique and Somalia are expected to continue arriving today to transport their citizens home.


Foreign nationals living in the point area in Durban's inner city say they believe locals have tried to attack them because they are lazy and have warned that if they leave their expertise many jobs will be lost.

The foreigners have refused to leave the area and say people living in refugee camps around the city are struggling, so they would rather remain in their shops to defend what they have.

Earlier this week residents and business owners barricaded parts of the road in a tense standoff with locals from surrounding townships.

Varfee Kenneth from Liberia says they have benefitted from South Africa's economy because they don't have the same opportunities at home.

"We are here in South Africa as brothers and sisters. We are not here to show that we are so special, no. we are West Africans, we believe in hard. We'll have to work hard and sweat, so when you are not doing nothing I'll take that opportunity and something with it because this is not my country."

At the same time, Eric Angolano from the Democratic Republic of Congo says when they told Asians to leave their country in 1991, there were dire consequences.

"We fire them for we control their business but it was something like a shame because we were never ready to running a big business, that's why they out the country down. Today they are fighting we coming from Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Congo but tomorrow it's going to be an Indian, after tomorrow it's going to be whites."

WATCH: Foreigners want to go home


Police have warned residents in the Eastern Cape to refrain from attacking foreign nationals, following incidents of xenophobic violence in that province.

Four shops belonging to foreigners were vandalised and looted in Cala near Queenstown on Thursday, after the discovery of the body of a woman who had disappeared in the week.

On Friday, police arrested a Zimbabwean national in connection with the murder of the 23-year-old.

Some foreign nationals are now seeking refuge at a local police station.

The police's Khaya Tonjeni says police will do anything in their power to make sure lawlessness is not tolerated.

"The South African Police Service will do everything within its powers to ensure the safety of all citizens and foreign nationals, and lawlessness will not be tolerated."

Tonjeni has also warned residents against taking the law into their own hands and say police are on high alert.

"Everyone working and living in the Eastern Cape must be treated with the necessary dignity and respect. Any case of wrongdoing, whether by a South Africa or foreign national, must be reported to the police who have been mandated top investigate and combat crime."

LISTEN: State Security Minister vows to bring xenophobia instigators to book