S African police fire rubber bullets at anti-immigrant march

The South African police have used rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannon on anti-immigrant protesters in the capital, Pretoria in a bid to disperse them. "We don't have hate!"

"How does South Africans do that to their fellow African?"

South Africans accuse migrants of stealing jobs or exploiting locals by running small businesses in poor, black townships.

Resentment against foreigners has sometimes turned deadly.

Two years ago, similar unrest in the cities of Johannesburg and Durban claimed seven lives as immigrants were hunted down and attacked by gangs.

The main group behind Friday's protests, Mamelodi Concerned Residents, remained peaceful.

Police were criticized for allowing the armed protesters to move into central Pretoria where a violent showdown was narrowly avoided.

As well as holding regular meetings, the parish groups respond when concerns are raised that xenophobic violence "is about to flare up and take action to prevent this", Mafinyori said.

According to Ghana's Foreign Affairs Ministry, no Ghanaian has been killed in the attacks in the rainbow nation so far. "My shops get looted a few times a year", he said.

The lawmakers also called on the South African government to ensure adequate protection of Nigerians, their businesses and property ahead of a planned protest by South African citizens against Nigerians on Friday.

"How can we say that we are the giant of Africa when in other African countries, our citizens are being killed?" he said. "It is wrong to brand all non-nationals as drug dealers or human traffickers", Zuma said.

South Africans should not blame all crime on non-South Africans, the statement from Mr Zuma's office said.

Asawase Member of Parliament (MP), Mohammed Mubarak Muntaka has urged African countries to boycott South African products in retaliation for the recent xenophobic attacks in that country.

Abdul Noor said he had hastily left his shop in Atteridgeville, west of Pretoria, after the protesters pounced on his business and looted his stock.

The periodic backlash has hurt the image of tolerance South Africa has tried to present to the world after apartheid. "African immigrants occupy low-wage or casual positions, such as cashiers, security guards, waiters, parking meter attendants and so on", said Fakier.

Migrants in South Africa are left politically powerless, beholden to willing police commanders, local councilors or non-governmental organizations who will take their case.

  • Leroy Wright