Roads into and out of Atteridgeville, Pretoria have been blocked with some commuters stranded without transport ahead of a march by a group against immigrants in South Africa.
The march from Marabastad to the Department of Home Affairs was organised by a group calling themselves ‘The Mamelodi Concerned Residents’.
It was preceded by looting of foreign-owned shops overnight in Atteridgeville, which saw seven people arrested so far, police said on Friday.
The organisers decried the employment of foreign nationals while locals struggled to secure jobs. Authorities in Pretoria had had initially refused to grant permission to the march organisers, citing safety concerns.
The National Joint Operational and Intelligence Structure (NATJOINTS) said security measures have been put in place to monitor the march.
“We would like to take this opportunity to urge all people participating in this protest action to do so in a peaceful manner. Those taking part should also note that the carrying of dangerous weapons is prohibited and those who decide to do so will likely face criminal prosecution,” said Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo.
“While members of the security forces are urged to exercise maximum restraint while carrying out their duties, criminal behaviour will not be tolerated under any circumstances.”
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba met the organisers and urged them to ensure that their march was peaceful.
“Issues raised by communities were around competition for jobs, access to economic opportunities and alleged criminal activities involving foreign nationals … these include drug peddling and prostitution. I have met with protest organisers and have appealed to them to express themselves responsibly,” said Gigaba.
The march was expected to commence at 11am.