South Africa anti-immigrant violence: Hundreds held

More than 300 people have been arrested in South Africa in connection with a wave of violence against immigrants from other parts of Africa, the minister of home affairs says.

Malusi Gigaba issued a warning to those responsible, saying that they would be subject to “the full might of the law”.

At least six people have been killed in the past two weeks.

Armed groups have targeted shops run by African immigrants, accusing them of taking jobs from locals.

Thousands of foreigners have fled their homes to shelter in makeshift camps, and neighbouring Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique have announced plans to evacuate citizens.

Speaking during a news conference, Mr Gigaba said 307 people were arrested in connection with the violence.

“Everything is being done to restore peace and order,” he said. “The government will enforce the laws of the country and will not hesitate to act speedily and decisively.

“We also want to issue a stern warning to those who lend themselves to acts of public violence: We will find you, and you will be dealt with to the full might of the law.”

Zuma jeered

In Durban on Saturday, President Jacob Zuma told a group of people displaced by the violence that the unrest went against South African values and that he would bring it to an end, but he was jeered by some in the crowd who accused him of acting too slowly.

Migrants, mostly from other African states and Asia, have moved to South Africa in large numbers since white-minority rule ended in 1994. Many South Africans accuse them of taking jobs in a country where the unemployment rate is 24%.

Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has been accused of fuelling the attacks by saying that foreigners should “go back to their countries”. However, he says his comments were distorted.

Official data suggests there are about two million foreign nationals in South Africa, about 4% of the total population. But some estimates put the number of immigrants at five million.

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