JOHANNESBURG – (AA) Relative calm prevailed Sunday on most streets of Johannesburg, which had witnessed anti-immigrant violence over the past four days.
“There were no skirmishes here today,” Simo Nche, a Cameroonian shopkeeper, told The Anadolu Agency near Jeppestown suburb which has been a hot spot for recent anti-immigrant attacks.
He said there were violent clashes on Friday night and early Saturday between police and hostel dwellers in Jeppestown, but it was quiet on Sunday.
“We hope the violence is coming to an end,” said Nche. “I hope the looters have not just taken a rest and will return to haunt us in the night.”
Shops and used car dealerships along the main street in Jeppestown remained open on Sunday.
Commuters were also seen boarding mini-bus taxis heading to Johannesburg city center.
“The war is not yet over,” a South African trader, who did not want to be named, told AA on Sunday.
“If foreigners don’t leave Jeppestown there will be a bloodbath,” he claimed.
Like many others, he accuses the foreign nationals of competing with locals in business by undercutting commodity prices which has allegedly forced many of them to close shop.
Scores of people had been arrested in Johannesburg following the recent spate of violence against African immigrants.
The violence began earlier this month in the coastal city of Durban where mobs had descended on the homes and shops of foreign migrants, accusing them of stealing jobs, committing crimes and putting a burden on social services in South Africa.
Attackers looted foreign-owned shops and homes and drove a number of migrants from their township dwellings.
Many migrants, fearing for their safety, are now being accommodated at temporary refugee camps.
Six people have reportedly been killed in the violence so far.
The situation was also calm in Mayfair, a Johannesburg suburb popularly known as “Little Mogadishu” due to its large Somali population.
“Shops are open in Mayfair and there is absolutely no trouble here,” Sauda Mohammed, a shop attendant, told AA.
“But people are just fearful,” she said.
Mohammed confirmed seen unusually high police visibility in the area.
“There are a lot of police patrol vans in our area,” she told AA by phone. “I think they are here to protect us.”
Foreign owned shops were also open along the Jeppe Street in Johannesburg’s central business district.
“We hope the violence is coming to end because we haven’t received any threats today,” Yohani Mengistu, an Ethiopian textile dealer, told AA.
“There is a lot of police visibility in the area,” he confirmed.
Johannesburg police remain on high alert.
“We are committed to fighting xenophobia,” Col. Geoffrey Meyer, the police commander of Yeoville station, said during a special prayer event late Saturday.
He said nothing would stop him and his colleagues from fighting xenophobia and protecting everybody living in South Africa.
President Jacob Zuma has cancelled a scheduled state visit to Indonesia over the ongoing violence.
“President Zuma was due to leave for Indonesia this evening for a state visit and to attend the Africa-Asia Summit,” presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj said in a statement late Saturday.
He said Zuma had instead decided to remain in the country and address the ongoing violence.
On Saturday afternoon, the president visited displaced foreign nationals in the Durban neighborhood of Chatsworth.
He reaffirmed his condemnation of the attacks and urged police to protect communities and bring perpetrators to the book.
There are hundreds of thousands of African migrants living in South Africa, the majority of whom are involved in the informal business sector.
They have been the most affected by the recent disturbances, with their shops and homes often being looted whenever there are service delivery protests.
Seven years ago, more than 50 African migrants were killed across the country when mobs of angry South Africans attacked them.
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