South African Army troops will be deployed in areas affected by xenophobic attacks on immigrants from other African countries. The measure was announced this week by the Defence Minister, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
In a speech live from the black ghetto in Alexandra, Johannesburg, the minister justified this measure on the need to “restore state authority” after a couple from Zimbabwe was attacked the night before in the area.
Mapisa-Nqakula said the Army will assist the police to arrest rioters and end the xenophobic violence in Alexandra, where the South African president Nelson Mandela lived. The violence against immigrants has caused one death and dozens of displaced persons.
The minister, who at first merely talked about the deployment of the Army in Alexandra, refused to give “operational information” about the number of soldiers mobilized or other details about the mission.
The Government sent Armed Forces to all places where the police think reinforcements are needed. She clarified that the city of Durban and Johannesburg are by far the hottest spots.
Mapisa-Nqakula also provided information on the health status of the couple that last was attacked. They have been released from hospital after being shot at.
The incident is, in her own words, the trigger for this government decision and it will be communicated to Parliament in the next seven days.
However, the minister said soldiers will be deployed from Alexandra police station beginning at 18:00 local time.
Dozens of people from Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi fled their homes in Alexandra on Saturday night due to the looting of businesses run by foreigners and attacks on their homes by local youth.
Also this weekend, the Mozambican Emmanuel Sithole was stabbed several times by their own neighbors in an incident photographed by the Sunday Times. The event has shocked South Africa.
The photographs published on Sunday by the newspaper have led to the arrest of four people.
South Africa lives a new wave of attacks on immigrants and refugees from countries in Africa and Asia, who have relocated in poor areas of black majority, in which these foreigners are accused of “stealing jobs” from to locals.
The violence, which has caused eight deaths and a thousands to flee their homes, began in Durban and spread last week to Johannesburg.
More than 300 people have been arrested for participating in this type of vandalism.
Located north of Johannesburg, Alexandra is one of the poorest neighborhoods in the city. In 2008, it was the epicenter of a xenophobic outbreak that killed more than 60 immigrants.