The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said there are no reports of Batswana killed in the recent spate of brutal xenophobic attacks in South Africa. On Wednesday morning, government spokesperson Jeff Ramsay said they are aware of the upsurge in incidents of violence targeting certain foreign traders in South Africa, more especially in some parts of the Durban metropolitan region and Johannesburg.
He said in a statement that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, through its diplomatic missions, is continuously monitoring the situation on the ground. “At this time there are no reports of any Batswana victims in the latest unrest. We shall, however, continue to closely monitor developments,” said Ramsay. Meanwhile, the South African Guardian newspaper reported this week that most of the unrest occurred in and around the coastal city of Durban, where police said two foreigners and three South Africans were killed.
The dead included a 14-year-old boy who was allegedly shot during looting on Monday night and died at a hospital. Some 34 people, the Guardian reported, have been arrested for possession of unlicensed firearms and other crimes in the last two days. Despite the increased police presence, authorities are hard-pressed to stop unrest that recalls similar violence in South Africa in 2008, in which about 60 people died.
In January this year, four people died during a week of looting of foreign-owned shops and other violence in Soweto and other areas of Johannesburg. Some South Africans have accused immigrants of taking jobs and opportunities away from them. The latest violence followed reported comments by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, an influential figure among the Zulu ethnic group, that foreigners should “pack their bags” and leave.
The king has since appealed for an end to the unrest. The southern African nation of Malawi, the Guardian reported, plans to repatriate at least 400 of its citizens, following the attacks in South Africa.