At least three Nigerian nationals were injured after xenophobia apparently reared its ugly head this week in Rustenburg in North West.
On Wednesday night, protesting residents torched six buildings they believed to be drug dens.
Community members reportedly denied the attacks were xenophobic and were complaining that police were not acting on the scourge of drug use affecting young people in Rustenburg.
Ongoing protests and attacks on immigrants in the mining town also escalated on Tuesday after two houses were set alight, allegedly because community members believed the people living there were drug dealers.
Adetola Olubajo, president of the Nigerian Union of South Africa, said Nigerian residents who contacted the organisation had been complaining since Sunday of constant threats, allegedly by local taxi drivers.
“It was being alleged by these men that some of the people being attacked were peddling drugs to the local Nyaope boys, who had in turn attacked some taxi drivers,” said Olubajo.
“So this was seen to be revenge attack. “Three of the victims were taken to hospital and one has since been discharged.” Olubajo said he did not believe the attacks were related to xenophobia .
“This was just an act of criminality by taxi drivers who believe they are above the law. I understand it was not only immigrants, but also South Africans who were caught up in these attacks. These people just saw immigrants as soft targets and instead of going to the police with their grievances, they decided to act themselves.”
Marc Gbaffou, chairperson of the African Diaspora Forum, was concerned that xenophobia was continuing to see immigrants from African countries viewed as criminals by local residents.
“We are very disturbed about this situation. “Unfortunately, when there are criminal elements in the community, instead of fighting the criminals, they talk about nationalities. “We are all fighting crime, no one wants crime in their community. “It is difficult for migrants to fight crime, but it becomes a barrier for us when people tend to give crime a nationality.”