South African police fired rubber bullets on Thursday to quell anti-foreign violence that has rattled officials and raised fears of wider clashes in the nation’s restive townships. There is considerable unemployment in South Africa and the presence of refugees from other African nations who are seeking work has aroused anger among many sectors of the population. Two people have been killed and more than four dozen injured since violence began last weekend in Alexandra township outside Johannesburg. Even while authorities rushed to the embattled town to discuss with community leaders ways of ending discord, youths were throwing stone, looting shops and setting up barricades in Diepsloot, another township near Johannesburg.
Historically, South Africa has offered a welcome haven to Africans who had to flee their nation due to violence or discrimination. But, South Africa has its own issues of poverty and the presence of foreigners seeking jobs has added to tensions. A major problem is the influx of nearly a million refugees from Zimbabwe whose country has been impoverished by the ruthless and mad behavior of President Mugabe.
Jacob Zuma, who will most probably become the next president of South Africa strongly condenmed the violence. “Xenophobia has no place in a democratic, free country like ours. Our people should avoid taking out frustrations they face due to unemployment or crime on immigrants.”