A large crowd of protesters from the Atteridgeville community, west of Pretoria, headed towards the city centre on Friday morning, demanding that all foreign nationals leave South Africa immediately.
The hostile crowd, often lashing out at journalists and police officers monitoring the situation, had already torched and looted several shops owned by Pakistani and Somali nationals in their community. Seven people have thus far been arrested in connection with the looting, police said on Friday.
The march from Marabastad to the department of home affairs was organised by a group calling themselves “The Mamelodi Concerned Residents”.
Roads leading into Atteridgeville were barricaded with large boulders and burning tyres. Some residents complained that they had been intimidated into staying away from work.
“We don’t know what we will tell our employers next week, but our jobs are on the line. We cannot go to work because there is no transportation. I am not part of this protest, and I only wanted to go and work for my family,” said 38-year-old Rebecca Mashate.
Taxis were not operating in the area. Numerous police officers were patrolling the neighbourhood.