South African President Cyril Ramaphosa is asking law enforcement agents to identify and prosecute those involved in recent attacks on immigrants in the country.
Hundreds of foreigners were forced from their homes and some of their business were looted by angry protesters in Durban city in the past week. Some of the immigrants took refuge in police stations and mosques, according to local media reports.
Several Malawian immigrants fled as protests in KwaZulu-Natal province turned violent, with demonstrators claiming that immigrants had taken jobs and businesses meant for citizens, South African website Times Live reported. Ramaphosa condemned the attacks Monday and said there was no “justification for criminality.”
The anti-immigrant violence comes as South Africa celebrates 25 years of freedom post-apartheid, the President said, adding that the country owes its freedom to the support of other African countries,
“African development depends on the increased movement of people, goods and services between different countries for all of us to benefit.
We will not allow criminals to set back these processes,” Ramaphosa said. South Africa’s Minister of International Relations Lindiwe Sisulu and the minister of police also held an urgent meeting with ambassadors from other African countries to address security issues that arose from the attacks.
Several people were killed in 2015 and thousands of immigrants fled as xenophobic attacks reached a fever pitch across the country. In 2008, scores of people were killed and thousands sought refuge in makeshift camps in a wave of sporadic xenophobic attacks in South Africa.