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Africa

Clashes continue in South Africa as President Zuma condemns violence

Condemnation of attacks against foreign nationals in South Africa is growing. As President Zuma delivered a stern warning to the perpetrators, thousands joined a march in Durban in protest against xenophobia.

Addressing Parliament in Cape Town on Thursday (16.04.2015), President Jacob Zuma warned those behind the current wave of xenophobic violence to stop immediately or face the full force of the law. The violence has claimed at least four lives and displaced hundreds of foreign nationals. There were further outbursts of violence around the country on Thursday, despite the assurance by police that they are on top of the situation.

"No amount of frustration or anger can ever justify the attacks on foreign nationals and the looting of their shops. We condemn the violence in the strongest possible terms; the attacks violate all the values that South Africa embodies," Zuma said.

He said the police had been directed to "work round the clock to protect both foreign nationals and citizens and to arrest looters and those committing acts of violence."

People marching for peace in Durban

Thousands joined a peace march in Durban

Members of opposition parties in Parliament also voiced their displeasure at the attacks and called on the government to swiftly bring them to an end. Mmusi Maimane, party leader in Parliament of the main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, recalled the words of the late Nelson Mandela.

"In 1994 President Mandela made a commitment that never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience oppression of one by another. Let us honor his memory by honoring that dream. Let's dare to never forget we are all human beings, we are all Africans," Maimane said

However, the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters party, Julius Malema, laid the blame for the violence squarely on President Zuma's shoulders.

Violence continues

Also on Thursday, thousands of foreign nationals and local residents marched in the city of Durban, calling for an end to xenophobia. But in Germiston, just outside Johannesburg, dozens of foreigners fled their homes to seek refuge at a police station. Zimbabwean national Nokwethemba Masuku said there was an atmosphere of great uncertainty among the foreign community. "You will never know when and where you will be attacked so it's not safe."

In Benoni, also close to Johannesburg, police had to use teargas to displace about one hundred and fifty locals who had gathered to attack foreign nationals.

A woman washes dishes at a camp for foreign nationals

Camps have been set up for foreign nationals who have left their homes

Among the international reactions to the violence was a strong warning from the chair of the African Union Commission, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who described the attacks as unacceptable.

In Malawi, the vice president was due to address a press conference on the issue on Thursday evening. According to a statement issued earlier this week by Malawi's information ministry, more than 400 Malawians have been moved into temporary camps in South Africa. A fleet of buses has been laid on to take the Malawians back home on Sunday.

The xenophobic attacks were triggered after Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini said foreigners should "pack their bags and leave." He later said his remarks had been misinterpreted and that he had been referring to criminal elements only.

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