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Zwelithini labels xenophobic attacks ‘vile’ and ‘wrong’

King Goodwill Zwelithini also urged Zulu’s to protect all foreign nationals in South Africa.

King Goodwill Zwelithini at the xenophobia imbizo at Moses Mabhida Stadium on 20 April 2015. Picture: EWN.

DURBAN - Zulu king Goodwill Zwelithini has spoken out on xenophobia at an imbizo in Durban calling the attacks on foreigners "vile" and "wrong".

He also urged Zulu's to protect all foreign nationals in South Africa.

The king addressed around 3,000 people at the Moses Mabhida Stadium, in the wake of the latest flare up of violence in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng in which seven people have been killed.

#XenoImbizo Zwelithini calls on Human Rights Commission to also investigate the media if there is something to investigate. VM

#XenoImbizo Zwelithini says there is a third force that we must all fight in this Xenophobic violence. Makes reference to fake SMS's. VM

#XenoImbizo Zwelithini has made a call for people to stop the violence and calm down. GW

ZWELITHINI DENIES INCITING VIOLENCE

The king started his speech by saying we are all African and relayed the story of ethnic violence in Rwanda, which left thousands dead.

He says he didn't want the same to happen in South Africa but maintains he did not incite any violence.

Zwelithini has called for peace between the Zulu nation and foreigners, saying his subjects should be the shield of foreigners.

He added that better education is needed to improve the relationship between communities.

His speech was met with cheers from the crowd and people who were booing foreign ambassadors sat and listened to him quietly.

He says he will co-operate with an investigation by the Human Rights Commission into his comments, which will be discussed at a moral regeneration rally in KwaZulu-Natal.

BUTHELEZI DEFENDS ZULU KING

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) Leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi told the crowd that Zwelithini was being used as an excuse for criminals to carry out attacks.

Shortly before the violence broke out, the Zulu monarch was quoted in the media saying foreigners 'must pack their belongings and leave the country'.

Both Zwelithini and government have since said he was quoted out of context.

Buthelezi said irrespective of who sparked the attacks, they needed to be stopped.

"Collectively reach out to foreign nationals in our midst, offering assistance and support. Our nation needs to be seen cleaning up this mess, we need to be seen restoring order."

Buthelezi told the thousands of people that chasing foreigners out of South Africa would not solve the country's problems as they are embedded in society.

The IFP leader and chief condemned criminals who he said capitalised on the media, misinterpreting the comments.

Buthelezi says it is all part of the plan by Zulu kingdom's enemies to discredit the king.

But he was also jeered by the crowed when he spoke of peaceful co-existence between foreign and local communities, with some people saying he'll leave the country with them.

He finished by saying he respects the king and asked the people to do the same.

Earlier, people arrived singing songs and called on foreigners to leave; saying locals should get jobs.

#XenoImbizo Izindunda of KwaMashu & eThekwini also here in their traditional attire. GW pic.twitter.com/rZpVWPoSsl

#XenoImbizo Around 3000 people here now. The people on the field are singing "we're asking you to please leave" GW pic.twitter.com/mieooSlASJ

#Imbizo The crowd here is restless, but many say will listen to whatever the king says. VM pic.twitter.com/4ZdePNJdFS

People attending the Imbizo said they had no problem with immigrants who are in the country legally.

"We want to stay alone in our land, be free and do our business in our own way… I'm against the beating of people because we are all black, all I'm saying is those who are here illegally… they must leave. The legal ones - I have no problem with them."

WATCH: Song and dance at King Zwelithini's xenophobia imbizo

#XenoImbizo VIDEO: People are arriving here wearing traditional outfits and singing. GW pic.twitter.com/852SkWNsPD

Earlier, KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) police said units from across the province had been deployed to provide security at the imbizo, but those stationed at the hotspots where violence occurred recently would not be withdrawn.

There'd been a heightened security presence in KZN's townships and city centre following xenophobic attacks.