KZN xenophobic violence spreads to KwaMashu

Durban - Attacks on foreign nationals continued in KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday night, when shops in Umlazi and KwaMashu were torched.

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Police officers in Umlazi repeatedly called for backup during the night, according to a police source who did not want to be named.

“We had an incident in V Section near the church, where a shop owned by a foreign national was set on fire by a mob of suspects. Later there was another fire which we believe was set by local people at a foreign-owned property in G Section,” he said.

Police spokesperson Major Thulani Zwane confirmed the attacks in Umlazi.

“We have had several cases in Umlazi overnight where shops were looted and then set on fire.

“It was also hectic last night in KwaMashu, with the violence spreading there near the men's hostel. Foreign-owned shops were attacked and when everything of value was stolen the places were torched. People even blocked the roads with burning barricades to stop police from doing their jobs,” Zwane said.

“We did manage to arrest 22 people overnight on various charges, including one man who was in possession of an illegal firearm.”

Anti-foreigner sentiment

The latest attacks are part of a tide of anti-foreigner sentiment which has spread to Durban’s largest townships.

The spate of xenophobic violence, which has left four people dead and thousands displaced, follows reported remarks by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini that foreigners should “pack their bags and go home”.

The attacks targeting property and stores owned by citizens of other African states continued despite national police commissioner Riah Phiyega ordering more officers to the township.

On Friday two Ethiopian brothers were critically injured when their shop, in a shipping container, was set on fire while they were trapped inside. One of the men died while in hospital. The other is fighting for his life.

The government has condemned the violence, with President Jacob Zuma sending officials to assess the situation and try and find solutions.

"We reiterate that there can be no justification for attacking foreign nationals," Zuma said on Sunday.

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