Thousands of people are expected to attend a march in South Africa’s coastal city of Durban in solidarity with the country’s foreign nationals.
The march, which includes religious leaders and concerned citizens, comes after weeks of attacks against foreign nationals in which at least five people have been killed and 74 people arrested since the end of March, according to Colonel Jay Naicker, the police spokesperson.
On Thursday, as many people prepared to march in the coastal city of Durban in KwaZuluNatal, many shops also remained closed in the business capital of the country, Johannesburg.
Groups of people were said to be travelling from other provinces to join in the show of solidarity with the foreign nationals.
Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa, reporting from Durban, tweeted the following:
She said that people had been gathering and that while the numbers were not yet big, the crowd was expected to grow.
Similar attacks occurred in 2008 in which at least 60 people were killed.
Messages circulating on social media warned people in Gauteng province and KwaZuluNatal to be on high alert for possible attacks and to also remain indoors.
In Malawi, officials have set up transit camps expected to house Malawians returning to the country, Kondwani Nankhumwa, the country’s information minister, said.
More than 2,000 foreigners have already sought shelter in refugee camps in Durban, a South African aid group said on Wednesday.
The refugee camps, set up on sports fields around Durban, will not be large enough if attacks on immigrants continue, said Imtiaz Sooliman of the Gift of the Givers organisation.
Those who can afford it are planning to leave the country, he said.
“They’ve lost their houses, they’ve lost their businesses, they’ve lost everything,” Sooliman said.
The organisation made the following appeal to the government on social media on Wednesday:
Whilst we make a call on all South Africans to support our initiative to show that we are a nation that cares, we also call on government…
South Africa President Jacob Zuma condemned the violence and assigned several cabinet ministers to work on the problem with officials in KwaZulu-Natal province.
The government is addressing South African citizens’ “complaints about illegal and undocumented migrants, the takeover of local shops and other businesses by foreign nationals as well as perceptions that foreign nationals perpetrate crime”, Zuma’s office said in a statement.
He also issued a warning to illegally operating foreign-owned businesses to close their doors.
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies