Johannesburg - An inability to bring about economic growth and decrease inequality are to blame for xenophobic violence, Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba said on Monday.
He understood the frustration of South Africans who felt trapped in unemployment and their hatred for crime in their communities.
“However, to channel that anger through xenophobic attacks unfairly vilifies and victimises our foreign brothers and sisters,” he said in a statement.
Some have blamed Mashaba for the violence, after he said that illegal immigrants were criminals.
"They are holding our country to ransom and I am going to be the last South African to allow it," he said in December 2016, at a briefing on his first 100 days in office.
On Friday, more than 100 people were arrested when mayhem broke out during an anti-foreigner march in Sunnyside, Pretoria.
Mashaba said on Monday that all available policing capacity would be used to promote law and order and keep foreign nationals and South Africans safe.
He would hold meetings with organisations representing the foreign community in Johannesburg to find solutions.
He has called on Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba not to “politicise the matter”.
“Acts of xenophobia are a long-standing and deep-rooted problem, which national government has only sought to pay lip service to rather than admitting to and addressing its underlying cause.
“We cannot allow ourselves to continue to tolerate acts of violence targeting any persons on the basis of any differences, perceived or actual. Ours aspires to be a tolerant and inclusive society, there can be no space for xenophobia in such a society,” Mashaba said.
On Sunday, Gigaba said South Africans held no ill will toward immigrants.
“Nor do they intimidate them, or loot or burn their property,” he said at the Lighthouse Chapel International Church, in Pretoria, on Sunday.
"The vast majority of South Africans are not xenophobic, and the vast majority of immigrants are law-abiding, religious people who seek only what is best for their children and families, for their fellow brethren, and for their countries both of origin and abode," he said.