Zulu king seeks to stop xenophobic violence in South Africa

” President Zuma last week condemned the violent attacks on foreigners, saying they contributed to the country’s development. But he also warned action against illegal immigrants.”
Cape Town, April 17 (IANS):  Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has sought to clarify his comments against foreigners which have been blamed for the recent xenophobic violence in South Africa, a media report said on Friday.

The king of the largest ethnic group in the country will host an imbizo on Monday. At the event, he is expected to clarify his statement against foreigners, the Independent Online quoted Premier of KwaZulu-Natal province enzo Mchunu as saying on Friday.

The gathering is likely to take place at the Curries Fountain Stadium.

The South African Human Rights Commission has received several complaints on the Zulu King’s comments about foreign nationals in the last week of March.

The king had reportedly said foreigners must return to their home countries.

According to a BBC report, at least five people have been killed in anti-foreigner attacks since the Zulu King’s comments.

In the latest attacks, foreign-owned shops were looted in Johannesburg on Thursday night despite a rally against xenophobia in the coastal city of Durban during the day, and condemnation from President Jacob Zuma.

The xenophobic violence was first reported in March in KwaZulu-Natal province’s Durban city and some other towns, from where it spread to other parts of South Africa.

Thousands of foreigners have been forced to stay in makeshift camps under police protection after their homes and business establishments were attacked, reportedly by jobless South Africans who blame foreigners for taking their jobs. The unemployment rate in the country is 24 percent, according to BBC.

South Africa is home to about two million foreign nationals, including Indians, according to official data. But the number of immigrants could be much higher.

President Zuma last week condemned the violent attacks on foreigners, saying they contributed to the country’s development. But he also warned action against illegal immigrants.

At least 62 people died in xenophobic attacks in South Africa in 2008.