AU commission seeks justice for xenophobia victims in South Africa
African Union Commission Tuesday asked South African authorities to ensure the administration of justice to perpetrators of xenophobic attacks on foreigners in the country.
The chairman of the commission Moussa Faki Mahamat in a statement by his spokesperson Ebba Kalondo condemned the incidents of violence against nationals of fellow African countries in South Africa, including the looting and destruction of their properties.
Kalondo said Mahamat is encouraged by arrests already made by the South African authorities.
“He calls for further immediate steps to protect the lives of people and their property, ensure that all perpetrators are brought to account for their acts and that justice be done to those who suffered economic and other losses,” Kalondo said.
He reiterated the African Union’s Commission continued commitment to support the South African government in addressing the root causes that led to these despicable acts to promote peace and stability, within the framework of the African Union’s longstanding principles of continental solidarity.
South African police have arrested more than 60 people following looting in Johannesburg and protests in the transport industry linked to a wave of anti-foreigner sentiment on Monday, AFP reported.
At least 41 people were arrested after hundreds of people marched through Johannesburg’s Central Business District (CBD), plundering shops and torching cars and buildings, the police said in a statement.
The unrest started on Sunday when an old building in the CBD caught fire and collapsed, killing at least three people. It then spread two eastern suburbs.
Such violence breaks out sporadically in South Africa, where many nationals blame foreigners for high unemployment, particularly in manual labour.
Police Minister Bheki Cele insisted the violence was linked to “criminality” rather than “xenophobia“.
“(Xenophobia) is used as an excuse,” Cele told journalists after a tour of the CBD.
“For now there is nothing that has sparked any form of this conflict between the South Africans and foreign nationals.”
Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama reacted strongly to the scenes of violence.
“Received sickening and depressing news of continued burning and looting of Nigerian shops and premises in #SouthAfrica by mindless criminals with ineffective police protection,” he said on Twitter.
“Enough is enough. We will take definitive measures.”
Police in the southeastern province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) said at least 20 individuals had been arrested “in connection with incidents related to protests within the trucking industry”.