Gauteng xenophobic violence: 10 of 12 victims were South Africans - defence minister

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Police patrol Johannesburg after violence. (Felix Dlangamandla, file)
Police patrol Johannesburg after violence. (Felix Dlangamandla, file)

Ten of the 12 people who were killed over the last week in unrest and violence aimed at foreign nationals in Gauteng were South Africans, Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula has said.

Mapisa-Nqakula was briefing the media on behalf of justice and security cluster ministers in Parliament on Tuesday, following a week of violent protests and looting in Gauteng, and the Johannesburg CBD specifically.

"Incidents of violence flared up, but were quickly dealt with around Jeppestown and Hillbrow. Ten people died on Sunday, bringing the total amount of fatalities to 12, 10 of which are South Africans and two are foreign nationals," she said in a statement.

Mapisa-Nqakula said the evidence presented to them "has not shown that foreign nationals are being targeted because of their nationality", but rather we "are seeing acts of criminality."

"South Africa is not a xenophobic country. Whoever is found on the wrong side of the law will be dealt with accordingly," she said.

The minister was joined by the ministers and deputy ministers of State Security, Police, Home Affairs and Justice and Correctional Services.

South Africa has experienced a wave of protests, in which communities have looted both foreign- and South African-owned shops while calling for an end to drug syndicates.

Close to 700 suspects arrested

Gauteng has been the hardest hit, with sporadic violence occurring across all three of its big metros.

Mapisa-Nqakula on Tuesday confirmed that close to 700 people had been arrested. 

"The charges for the arrested suspects ranged from public violence, arson, malicious damage to property, theft and possession of stolen property, possession of unlicensed firearms and ammunition, attempted murder and murder, business robbery, and ongoing contravention of the Gathering Act," she said.

The South African government would continue to contribute to the promotion and maintenance of peace and security in Africa, she said.

"We will increase our participation in conflict resolution, peace-making and peace-building at regional and continental levels.

"We appeal to all communities to use proper channels to express their grievances and to protest peacefully. The community protests must not be influenced by criminal elements who distract the communities from expressing genuine grievances," said Mapisa-Nqakula.

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