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Defence Minister reveals plans to fight xenophobic violence

Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula arrived at the Alexandra Police Station for a briefing on plans to fight violence.

Minister of Defence Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula briefing media on the deployment of South African troops to monitor the situation in Alexander on 21 April 2015. Picture: Mia Lindeque/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula arrived at the Alexandra police station for a briefing on government's plans to fight xenophobic violence this evening.

Mapisa-Nqakula briefed President Jacob Zuma on her ministry's decision to deploy the defence force to xenophobia hotspots earlier this afternoon.

Government delegates including State Security Minister David Mahlobo are also gathered in Alexandra tonight.

Mahlobo says government is working to ensure the safety of all those living in South Africa.

The State Security minister says government is trying to ensure that all in South Africa have safe and peaceful living environments.

"Everyone must be able to feel free whether they are South African or not and we have a duty to protect all."

He says government's firm action in addressing the flare up of xenophobic violence sends a message of assurance to other African states whose citizens have been affected.

Meanwhile, the Defence Minister is expected to arrive at the Alexandra police station shortly to address delegates gathered here tonight.

At the same time, police are calling on members of the public to come forward with information to aid an investigation into the shooting of a Zimbabwean couple in Alexandra.

The man and woman were shot and wounded last night, allegedly by three suspects pretending to be police officers.

The suspects are believed to have knocked at the couple's door before opening fire and fleeing.

Officials say nothing was taken from the scene.

The police's Lungelo Dlamini said, "They were wounded in the upper body and taken to the hospital. At this stage a case of attempted murder is being investigated. The motive for the incident has not yet been established."

WATCH: Why did govt deploy troops to xenophobic hotspots?

SANDF TROOPS SENT TO ALEX AND KZN

Earlier, Mapisa-Nqakula announced that the South African National Defence Force (Sandf) would be deployed to Alexandra to deal with the xenophobic attacks.

The army was seen arriving this afternoon ahead of a walkabout from 6pm this evening.

It's not the first time troops have been deployed to assist police in countering violence against immigrants in South Africa.

Sandf troops were last deployed to assist police during the wave of xenophobia that broke out in 2008.

Deploying troops internally is something most democracies try to avoid says policing expert Gareth Newham.

"It tends to send out a message that the police aren't in control."

He says when troops were deployed seven years ago, it was only after police had been battling for days to contain the eruption of xenophobic violence and needed assistance.

But Newham says that's not the case presently.

"We don't have widespread violence spiralling out of control."

He believes the decision to send troops into Alexandra is a political one, aimed at sending a strong message to citizens of African countries and their leaders that the South African government is taking firm action.

LISTEN: How many foreigners are working in SA?

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