The African National Congress (ANC) on Friday called on the police to arrest those who promoted violence in the wake of a march against illegal immigrants by a group of residents in Pretoria.
“Violence has no place in our country where we strive to promote peaceful coexistence between all those who reside within our borders,” the governing party said.
“These are acts of criminality and the ANC calls on our law-enforcement authorities to deal appropriately with those found to be behind these attacks.
“Similarly, the ANC calls on all South Africans, and in particular, persons in positions of leadership in communities and of political parties, to refrain from inflammatory rhetoric that stokes the flames of intolerance.”
The ANC blamed Johannesburg Mayor Herman Mashaba, who is a member of the Democratic Alliance party, for recent violence and destruction of properties purported to belong to druglords in Rosettenville, south of Johannesburg.
“His pompous call in December 2016 for foreigners to leave ‘his city’ – declaring that all foreigners in the province were illegal – in fact preceded this spate of attacks on foreigners,” said the ANC.
“The ANC notes the bitter irony of the political opposition the Democratic Alliance ‘condemning xenophobic violence’ in Gauteng when it was the reckless statements of Mayor Mashaba that lit the tinderbox of hatred in the first place.”
“Issues of crime and illegal immigration fall within the purview of our law enforcement and border management agencies. We should not and cannot allow vigilantism to prevail.”
Police were out in the streets of Pretoria on Friday to quell any violent acts as residents of Mamelodi and Attridgeville made their way to Marabastad ahead of a march against illegal immigrants in the country.
The march to the department of home affairs, where a memorandum would be handed over, was organised by a group calling themselves “The Mamelodi Concerned Residents”.
It was preceded by looting of foreign-owned shops overnight in Atteridgeville and several being arrested for alleged theft.
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.
Another group known “The Atteridgeville Concerned Residents” was reportedly marching form the township to the Pretoria CBD.