Daily Maverick

Toll from S.Africa township clashes rises to four

The death toll from rioting and looting targeting foreign-owned businesses in Johannesburg's Soweto township earlier this week has risen to four, police said on Friday.

Parts of the sprawling area of more than one million people erupted into violence on Wednesday after a foreign business owner allegedly shot a suspected robber.

“Four people have died and 27 people have been arrested in the township,” police spokesman Lungelo Dlamini told AFP.

“The fourth person, a woman, was shot and killed at Tsepisong , West Rand.”

The toll initially given by police was two.

Dlamini confirmed that, although foreign business owners were the target of the violence and looting, no foreign nationals were killed.

“All of the deceased were South Africans,” he said.

Mob attacks are a worry for police, who “are concerned about violence as well as (about) community members who are taking law into their own hands,” he said.

Attacks against foreigners in the country have occurred frequently in recent years, fuelled by high unemployment, prejudice and poverty.

Tensions in the past months have been mounting over accusations foreign-owned stores have been selling expired food products.

The government on Wednesday issued a statement urging people to “refrain from taking the law into their own hands” over allegedly unsafe goods.

Last year, shops and homes in Pretoria owned by migrants were looted and torched over two weeks, with some South Africans alleging the properties were brothels and drug dens.

In 2008, South Africa experienced its worst bout of xenophobic violence, which left 62 people dead.

In 2015, at least seven people died in similar unrest in Johannesburg and the Indian Ocean city of Durban as immigrants were hunted down and attacked by gangs.

Zimbabweans, Nigerians, Somalis, Bangladeshis and Pakistanis are among the groups targeted in past attacks. DM

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