SOUTH AFRICA –
SOUTH AFRICA has deployed soldiers to volatile areas in Johannesburg and KwaZulu-Natal in a bid to quell anti-immigrant violence that has killed at least seven people in several weeks of unrest in that country.
South Africa’s defence minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, said troops, who will deter criminal activity were deployed despite clashes having subsided after days of violence.
“We come in as the last resort, the army will serve as a deterrent against the crime that we see,” Mapisa-Nqakula told reporters, declining to give details on how many troops would be involved.
“There are people who will be critical but those who are vulnerable will appreciate this decision,” she said.
Police have struggled to contain mobs who have been attacking foreigners from Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique and other African countries in both the economic capital Johannesburg and in the port city of Durban.
The spate of attacks has revived memories of xenophobic bloodshed in 2008, when 62 people were killed in Johannesburg’s townships, shaking South Africa’s post-apartheid image as a “rainbow nation” of different ethnic groups.
South Africa has been criticised by foreign governments, including China, Nigeria and Zimbabwe, for failing to protect foreigners as TV stations broadcast images around the world of armed mobs looting immigrant-owned shops.
President Jacob Zuma’s government was put under further pressure when images appeared in local media on Sunday of men beating and stabbing Mozambican man Emmanuel Sithole to death in broad daylight.