Police issue warning ahead of peace march

Durban - Police have issued a stern warning that anyone planning to disrupt the peace march against xenophobia through the Durban city centre on Thursday would be “dealt with”.

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The march, led by religious and political leaders, is expected to start at Curries Fountain at 10:00 and move through the central business district to City Hall.

It comes as local, provincial and national government initiatives to reintegrate thousands of displaced foreign nationals back into their communities gather steam.

Durban was brought to a standstill on Tuesday as groups of locals and foreign nationals clashed with police.

Similar violence broke out in Pietermaritzburg on Wednesday, with thousands forced from their homes overnight.

'Strong contingent'

Police spokesperson Major Thulani Zwane said a “strong contingent” of officers would be deployed in the city to monitor the march.

While he could not be drawn to comment on the exact strength of the force for security reasons, he said that anyone inciting violence would be met with strong resistance.

“We want people to be aware that we will have a large force present in the city of Durban. This alone should serve as a deterrent to anyone who thinks it is a good idea to start causing trouble. They will be dealt with,” he said.

The spate of xenophobic violence has left five people dead and scores injured, with officers investigating whether the death of a man in Verulam on Tuesday could be linked to the violence.

While Zwane confirmed that a foreign national had been stabbed to death near his home in Buffelsdraai, he said that the full array of facts needed to be examined before a conclusion was drawn.

“We need to better understand that circumstances around this man’s death before we label it as a xenophobic attack. All we can say for now is that he is a foreign national and the investigation into his murder is ongoing,” he said.

In addition to the march, President Jacob Zuma has called for calm in a series of broadcasts on public radio and television on Wednesday afternoon and evening.

'I think this now must stop, because we cannot continue killing one another," said Zuma.

Hate speech charge

Meanwhile, Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini faces another human rights violation charge after the Western Cape organiser of the SA National Defence Union laid a complaint against him on Wednesday with the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) over reported comments of him calling on immigrants to pack their bags and go.

In spite of calls for calm, a group of about 20 foreigners arrived at the Primrose police station in Germiston, on Johannesburg's East Rand, on Wednesday asking for protection from police, saying they were scared.

Temporary camps have been set up parts of KwaZulu-Natal to house those displaced by the violence, but the SAHRC said the conditions there were not good.

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