A young teenage boy died after being shot three times during a looting spree in Lindelani in KwaZulu-Natal, hit by deadly xenophobic violence that broke out over the weekend.
But there was no need yet for the army to be sent in, said Police Minister Nathi Nhleko, who described the unrest as a form of African “self-hate”.
At least four other people have also been killed in the violence against foreign nationals in parts of KwaZulu-Natal, which has displaced a significant number of people from their homes.
Police spokesperson Colonel Jay Naicker said the boy was shot at 22:30 on Monday night.
“He sustained three gunshot wounds and was taken to hospital where he died on arrival. Ntuzuma police are investigating a case of murder and no arrest has been made at this stage. ”
Rights of all people
Naicker said there were four other recent confirmed deaths related to the violence. Two were South Africans and two were foreign nationals.
Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said at a briefing on Tuesday that at least 48 people had been arrested since the outbreak of violence against foreign nationals in the province.
“The Justice, Crime Prevention, and Security Cluster [JCPS] notes with deep concern the incidents of violence unfolding in our country and we want to assert government’s position that any lawlessness will not be tolerated,” she said.
“The constitution of our country protects the rights of all people living in our country, South Africans and foreigners alike… Government will do everything within the law to ensure their safety irrespective of their status.”
Police Minister Nathi Nkhleko said the army had not been called to assist authorities in dealing with the violence.
“The situation… has not come to that point to necessitate the point of army deployment,” he said at the same briefing.
“Government agencies have handled that situation relatively quite well in a sense [of] the collaborative effort.”
African against one another
He said that the xenophobic violence taking place in KwaZulu-Natal represented an emergent complex picture, and what was being witnessed with a form of African “self-hate”.
“Firstly, some of us find it difficult to think that this is just xenophobic. I think it also represents a particular political problem. You don’t see Australians being chased on the street, you don’t see Britons being chased on the streets,” the minister said,
What was largely been seen is Africans against one another, which represented a particular political problem which needed to be dealt with by South Africans.
Meanwhile State Security Minister David Mahlobo said the situation was under control.
“You go to Durban right now, the situation is under control,” he told reporters in Cape Town and Pretoria via video-link.
“Our message is very clear: securing our country is all of our responsibility.”
Mahlobo said the violence in the province was not only a security matter, but also a social economic one.
Dozens of looters
“This is not only a security matter. It is a social economic situation that we find ourselves in, both as South Africans and as a continent at large,” he said.
“It would be expected that there is free movement around the world…that’s why our immigration system, we are tightening it up.”
Dozens of looters arrived in Pinetown on Tuesday morning, for the second day in a row, and helped themselves to stock owned by foreign nationals.
Nigerian shopowner Sam Tony, who had a shop in Hill Street said: “They came today, they took from the Senagalese [shop owner]. They came in their numbers, about 60 or 50. When they came we just closed our shops and stood outside.”
He said the looters arrived between 10:00 and 10:30, the same time as Monday.
Few police officers
They did not attack the shop owners but grabbed clothing and ran off.
“They are stopping our businesses. People who come to do shopping in Pinetown are now scared. How do we pay rent like this?,” asked Tony.
He said the few police officers present just stood and watched the looting.
On Tuesday morning KZN premier Senzo Mchunu and Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba also hosted diplomats from African states to discuss the recent spate of attacks on foreign nationals.
On Monday night, KwaMashu was electric as gangs moved from shop to shop.
Hundreds of police officers, deployed to the city from all corners of KwaZulu-Natal, were stretched thin as thousands of people descended on foreign owned shops.
As officers battled to protect foreign nationals who desperately tried to salvage what was left of their belongings, locals forced their way into shops and made off with food and goods before setting the shops ablaze.
Officers from the Public Order Policing Unit, specially trained to disperse and disarm violent crowds using non-lethal methods, were overrun as shops were looted in several sections of both Umlazi and KwaMashu at the same time.
The policemen, clad in full riot gear and armed with shotguns, raced from section to section and waged bitter battles against looters who retaliated with bottles and rocks.
Ticking time bomb
Some critics have pointed out that the recent attacks on foreign nationals follow comments allegedly made by King Goodwill Zwelithini during a moral regeneration event in Pongola, northern KwaZulu-Natal.
It was reported that the king allegedly told a gathering that “foreigners must pack their bags and go home”.
Zwelithini said on Friday that the media had chosen to “deliberately distort” his comments.
President Jacob Zuma’s son Edward, who has come out in full support of Zwelithini’s call, said on Tuesday that government had to stop unnecessarily accommodating foreign nationals
“What is happening in KwaZulu-Natal is exactly what I was talking about when I said South Africa is sitting on a ticking time bomb.
“People think that I am being xenophobic but I am not, I am just trying to make a point that we have a problem.
“There was a woman that was shot by a foreigner in Umlazi. My question is where did they [foreign nationals] get guns from? And the problem is that the police won’t be able to trace some of these guys [because they do not have legal documents to be in the country].
“All those that are in this country illegally must leave. I do not blame them [South Africans] for being angry but what can government do? Home Affairs and the South African Social Security Agency [Sassa] are taking care of them but South Africans will still be angry.”
“I am not going to stop telling the truth. The government must stop running away from addressing this issue because these people are expected to go back into their communities and we would have wasted taxpayer’s monies [accommodating them at camps].”