An anti-immigration rally in central Pretoria, South Africa, ended in violence and police were forced to fire rubber bullets and stun grenades to break up hand-to-hand fighting between local and foreign blacks last week.
Local blacks have often violently attacked foreign blacks—almost all illegal immigrants—in South Africa over recent years, complaining that they are taking the ever shrinking number of jobs.
At last week’s riot, police had to keep the mobs apart as local blacks sought to battle illegals from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Somalia—and even a few from Pakistan.
As the stand-off continued, Clement Melfort, 26, a Zimbabwean, was quoted by media as saying, “We are not afraid of fighting”—and it was not long before the accuracy of that prediction came true.
In the last week, more than 20 shops have been targeted in the black suburb of Atteridgeville, outside Pretoria, while residents in Rosettenville, south of Johannesburg, attacked at least 12 houses.
“We have decided to not to leave the house (during the march),” Alain Bome, a 47-year-old from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who has been in South Africa for 14 years, told AFP.
“We know very well there have been attacks. We are scared.”
In 2008, South Africa experienced its worst bout of anti-illegal immigrant violence, which left 62 people dead.
The Nigerian government this week called for the African Union to step in to stop “xenophobic attacks” on its citizens in South Africa, claiming 20 Nigerians were killed last year.
In 2015, at least seven people died in similar unrest in Johannesburg and the Indian Ocean city of Durban as African immigrants were hunted down and attacked by black gangs