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South African police arrest 90 as attacks on foreign-owned businesses continue

President Cyril Ramaphosa said the violence must stop.

A business owner carries goods out of his damaged shop caused by looters in Germiston, east of Johannesburg (AP)
A business owner carries goods out of his damaged shop caused by looters in Germiston, east of Johannesburg (AP)

By Krista Mahr

South Africa’s president has condemned days of widespread looting and arson attacks on foreign-owned businesses across Johannesburg and the capital Pretoria, calling the violence “totally unacceptable”.

Cyril Ramaphosa said in a video statement published on Twitter: “We are a country that is completely committed against xenophobia.

“We do not allow and cannot tolerate attacks on people from other African countries.”

Police fanned out across neighbourhoods in Johannesburg and Pretoria as the violence extended into a third day in South Africa.

Officers have arrested more than 90 people in five areas affected by the violence.

Many gutted, emptied shops remain closed as shop owners, many of them foreign, feared to return to their property.

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A tailor is assisted to carry a sewing machine from his looted shop in Germiston (AP)

“There is no justification whatsoever for people who have a sense that their jobs are being taken by people from foreign lands to attack them, to destroy properties, and actually to kill them,” said Mr Ramaphosa.

“This must be stopped.”

On Monday, African governments warned citizens living in South Africa to take safety precautions and expressed frustration with the latest wave of attacks targeting foreign-owned businesses in South Africa.

The Ethiopian Embassy in South Africa advised citizens to close their shops “until peace is restored”, according to Ethiopian media, and Zambia’s ministry of transport and communications warned Zambian truck drivers not to travel in to the country.

The Nigerian government also lashed out at South African police for their “ineffective” response to attacks on its citizens.

Nigeria’s foreign affairs minister Geoffrey Onyeama called the violence “sickening” on Twitter, and said the Nigerian government would “take definitive measures,” without elaborating.

PA

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