At least 189 people have been arrested after the outburst of the xenophobic violence in South Africa, police said on Tuesday.
The Police reaction was followed by , President Cyril Ramaphosa’s vow to clamp down on the attackers after the African Union, Nigeria and Zambia condemned the attacks.
In a video address broadcast on Twitter, Ramaphosa said attacks on businesses run by “foreign nationals is something totally unacceptable, something that we cannot allow to happen in South Africa.”
“I want it to stop immediately,” said Ramaphosa, adding that the violence had “no justification.”
Separately, African Union chairperson Moussa Faki condemned the violence “in the strongest terms” but said he was encouraged “by arrests already made by the South African authorities”.
Deputy President David Mabuza condemned all attacks on foreign nationals.
“We are a nation founded on the values of ubuntu (humanity) as espoused by our founding father, President Nelson Mandela… we should always resist the temptation of being overwhelmed by hatred,” he said in Cape Town on Tuesday.
Sporadic violence against foreign-owned stores and enterprises has a long history in South Africa, where many locals blame immigrants for high unemployment.
The country is a major destination for economic migrants from neighbouring Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Others come from much farther away, including South Asia and Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country.
Gavin Booldchand, who lives in Coronationville, a low income suburb west of Johannesburg, said he witnessed one of the killings on Tuesday, which was blamed on a Pakistani store owner.
“The owner of the shop shot him straight into the face,” Booldchand told AFP. “He didn’t have to shoot the guy like that you know.
“People are taking our jobs and stuff (and) it is our country after all.”
This week’s assaults appear on a greater scale than in the past, although the full details remain unclear.
“They burned everything,” Bangladeshi shop owner Kamrul Hasan, 27, told AFP in Alexandra, adding that his shop gets attacked every three to six months.
“All my money is gone. If the (South African) government pays for my plane ticket, I will go back to Bangladesh,” he said.
The violence and looting of shops occurred in Johannesburg and surrounding areas.