South Africa arrests four men linked to xenophobic killing

” The xenophobic attacks were believed to have been undertaken by jobless South Africans who blame foreigners for taking their jobs away. The unemployment rate in the country is 24 percent, according to the BBC.”
Johannesburg, April 22 (IANS):  Four men have been arrested in South Africa in relation to the murder of a Mozambican man in the Johannesburg township of Alexandra, according to media reports on Tuesday.

The four accused, Sizwe Mngomezulu, Ayanda Sibiya, Siphundi Mzimela and Mthinto Bhengu were produced at the Alexandra Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday, according to an Independent Online report.

Images of the four men attacking the helpless 35-year-old street vendor, Emmanuel Sithole, with knives, a pipe wrench and a spade had caused widespread revulsion.

Worked-up people tried to push their way into the packed court before the case started, screaming that they wanted to see the killers.

The police managed to stop the crowd from entering as the four suspects made their brief appearance in court, where they are facing charges of murder with aggravating circumstances and theft.

A large group of people came to support Sithole and his family. Many of them carried placards with the words stop xenophobia.

It took magistrate Gideon Schnetler a few minutes to postpone the case to May 4 for a formal bail application.

If convicted for murder, the men could be awarded a maximum sentence of life in prison because a weapon was used to carry out the deadly act.

The National Prosecuting Authority said on Tuesday it was confident of a conviction.

We are here to assure the public that we are treating this matter in a very serious light. We are confident with evidence we have that there is enough to have them convicted, National Directorate of Public Prosecutions head Mxolisi Nxasana said in Alexandra.

Since attacks against foreign nationals flared up about two weeks ago in South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, seven people, including Sithole, are believed to have been killed in xenophobic riots.

South Africa on Tuesday deployed troops to anti-immigrant hotspots to quell the xenophobic violence that had rocked the country as hundreds of immigrants were repatriated.

The xenophobic attacks were believed to have been undertaken by jobless South Africans who blame foreigners for taking their jobs away. The unemployment rate in the country is 24 percent, according to the 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.