President Jacob Zuma’s cancelled a state visit to Indonesia to deal with the xenophobic violence sweeping South Africa and threatening its relations with the rest of the continent.
At least six people have died in attacks – mainly on African foreigners – and reminiscent of the 2008 xenophobic attacks – people are being forced to take shelter in makeshift refugee camps.
The last-minute cancellation of President Jacob Zuma’s visit to Indonesia, where he was also going to attend an Afro-Asian summit, follows another death of a foreigner in Johannesburg and scores of new arrests in South Africa’s commercial capital.
Zuma’s says there’s no justification for the xenophobic attacks mainly in Johannesburg and the eastern port city of Durban.
They have been sparked by fears that foreigners are taking the jobs from locals in a country where the economy cannot accommodate one in three work-seeking adults.
There have also been unfortunate remarks criticising foreigners by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini and a member of Zuma’s cabinet Lindiwe Zulu.
Neighbouring Zimbabwe, Malawi and Mozambique have announced plans to evacuate their citizens.
Nigeria is reportedly considering severing diplomatic ties in the mistaken belief that the attacks are aimed mainly at its nationals.
The United Nations High Commissioner for
Refugees says most victims targeted are refugees and asylum seekers who are forced to leave their countries due to war and persecution.