Clashes between locals trying to loot foreign-owned stores and police have taken place overnight in a township outside Johannesburg, as tension persists in several South African cities following attacks on immigrants. South Africa’s government has vowed to crack down on xenophobic violence, after arresting more than 300 people for a range of crimes against immigrants.
Nigerian Consul-General in South Africa, Uche Ajulu-Okeke, said on Sunday that Nigerians lost more than 21 million Rand (N1.2 million) in the on-going xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
Ajulu-Okeke told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) by phone from Johannesburg, South Africa, that the loss included looted shops, burnt shops, two burnt mechanic workshops, 11 burnt cars and two stolen cars, among others.
“Nigerians have compiled the cost of the damage to their property and it is totaling about 1.2m Rand or N21m, which will be sent to the Federal Government for further action,” the ambassador said.
She said that two of the three Nigerians who were wounded during the attacks in Durban had been treated and discharged from the hospital.
The consul-general said that she would go back to Durban to assess the situation on ground and meet with the provincial authority on the security of Nigerians in that province.
“The Nigerian mission in South Africa is on top of the situation. We are working hard to protect Nigerians in South Africa. Though the task has not been easy but we are trying our best. In one of the hot spots at Jeppe, near Johannesburg, the mission assisted about 50 stranded Nigerians to re-settle. I have also visited the site of the attacks in Johannesburg to assess the damage and it was enormous.”
She said the Nigerian mission would meet with the Nigerian union chapters in the nine provinces of South Africa to devise means of checking further attacks.
“I am bringing all Nigerians together so that we work out a vigilance and alert mechanism; they will also tell me what their challenges and issues are,’’ she said.
Okeke said the mission and the Nigerian Union had been working together to meet the challenges caused by the xenophobic attacks on Nigerians.
Authorities said on Sunday in Johannesburg that 307 suspects had been arrested for a range of xenophobic-related crimes.
Security agencies have also increased the police presence on the ground after at least eight deaths in anti-immigrant violence in the past week.
David Mahlobo, the Minister of State Security, said;
“They have actually pushed other people to leave their own comfort zones, their homes,”
More than 1,000 people have been displaced after violence against foreign nationals flared up on March 30 in the country’s coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal, whose capital is Durban.
The attacks soon spread inland to the country’s financial hub, Johannesburg, in Gauteng province.
On Saturday, another two people were reported killed, bringing the death toll in the latest wave of attacks to eight, South African police said.
Meanwhile, an uneasy calm prevailed in Johannesburg on Sunday, April 19 which is the third day since violence against foreigners erupted in the city.
Lieutenant Colonel Lungelo Dlamini told Al Jazeera that no violent incidents occurred overnight on Sunday.
“There are enough officers deployed and the situation has been stabilised,” he said.
The arrests came after President Jacob Zuma cancelled a trip to Indonesia in order to address the situation at home.
He told a crowd in the Chatsworth area of KwaZulu-Natal that the government would deploy police to every area to ensure safety.
In a separate statement, Zuma said:
“We will engage stakeholders next week as we need all leaders to work together to bring the situation to normality.”
The violence in Johannesburg centred around trouble spots such as Jeppestown, Alexandra, Malvern, Thokoza and Cleveland.
Jeppestown was tense on Saturday following overnight clashes and looting of foreign-owned shops.
However, Mina Demian, a local reporter who visited the neighbourhood, said the incidents of violence were random.
He said that there was a sense that people were going out at night to target shops.
“It does not seem as organised as you would imagine it to be,” Demian said.