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|The faces of peace and brotherly love|
Police battled to contain a wave of violence in South Africa last night as gangs of migrants armed themselves with machetes to fight off anti-foreigner attacks by locals.
Five people have died since vigilantes started looting and attacking shops owned by immigrants, mainly from other parts of Africa.
Police fired stun grenades and rubber bullets as immigrant gangs confronted the vigilantes, and last night in parts of Johannesburg officers formed a human barrier to keep the two sides apart.
More than 200 immigrants had to take refuge in a police station and dozens of businesses were closed when trouble spread just a day after a rally against xenophobia in Durban.
Immigrants have complained about a lack of protection from the authorities and some have started arming themselves to fight back.
Eyewitnesses have claimed that the vigilante violence is carefully orchestrated and that minibuses have been ferrying men armed with knives and machetes around suburbs.
In the past two weeks, shops and homes owned by Somalis, Ethiopians, Malawians and other migrants have been targeted, forcing more than 2,000 to flee to camps protected by armed guards. [Didact: So apparently local, native South African blacks don't like blacks from other countries coming to South Africa to live and work there? Imagine that!]
In Johannesburg, Malawian immigrant Samuel Idrssa described how his friend was stabbed and set on fire by a mob.
‘We wanted to rescue him but there were too many of them,’ he said. ‘It was shocking.’
He added: ‘We have all left our homes. Those affected are those of us who live in poor townships because we live with poor South Africans who do not have jobs.’
So far, five people are believed to have been killed in the violent protests which started two weeks ago in Durban, a key port on South Africa's Indian Ocean coast, spreading to Johannesburg.
Violence flared days after Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini [Didact: seriously?] said in remarks reported by local media that foreigners should 'take their bags and go'.
In a recorded speech sent to a local broadcaster, he said: 'We must deal with our own lice' and complained about foreign-owned shops. He has since said his comments were misinterpreted.
Addressing parliament in Cape Town on Thursday, President Zuma reiterated his condemnation of the violence, calling it a 'violation' of South Africa's values.