UN warns foreign nationals over South African xenophobic violence

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South Africa
Playing ‘catch’ with a looted loaf of bread

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — The United Nations refugee agency has urged foreign owned shop owners to shut their businesses until calm returns to South Africa’s restive Soweto, on the outskirts of economic capital, Johannesburg.

Six people have died since violence broke out in Soweto, the epicentre of what is seen as xenophobic attacks that broke out last week.

The violence was sparked by the shooting of 14-year-old Siphiwe Mahori last week by a Somali shopkeeper.

The UN agency said shop-owners should take precautions and should stay shut until the situation is brought under control.

On Monday, 178 people had been arrested in the violence.

Looting had spread to Eden Park, Ekurhuleni in the East Rand of Johannesburg.

A shop was also torched in Alexandra, north of Johannesburg, Makgale said on Monday.

Police on Tuesday said there had been no reports of looting of foreign-run shops in Gauteng overnight.

“There were no reported incidents of looting overnight,” national police spokesperson Lieutenant General Solomon Makgale said.

Organisations have expressed outrage with a leading refugee organisation, the Consortium of Refugees and Migrants in South Africa, CoRMSA calling “for urgent intervention from the Presidency, the Ministry of Police, the African National Congress and leaders of other political parties to call on communities to desist from continuing with the rampant behaviour”.

It added that “the 2008 xenophobic attacks taught us that the delayed response from the political leadership also contributes to the escalation of such incidences”.

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