Defence Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula says the violence which has rocked the country over the past two weeks was not xenophobia, it was criminality.
“We have noted with concern that the incidents of lawlessness have been characterised as xenophobic attacks,” Mapisa-Nqakula said at a justice, crime prevention and security cluster (JCPS) briefing.
“The evidence presented to the JCPS cluster has not shown that foreigners are being targeted because of their nationality. On the contrary, we are seeing acts of criminality.
“Whoever is found on the wrong side of the law will be dealt with accordingly. South Africa is not a xenophobic country.”
Mapisa-Nqakula claimed the JCPS cluster had “moved swiftly” to restore stability in Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Tshwane central business districts and KwaZulu-Natal.
The minister said monitoring and early warning intelligence was ongoing to assist with the stabilisation of the situation.
“With regards to intelligence services, we want to assure members of the public that the intelligence agencies are working day and night to detect and prevent these violent incidents.
“A lot of these have been nipped in the bud,” Mapisa-Nqakula said. “Intelligence-driven investigations are ongoing to identify suspects and ringleaders. More than 170 people have been arrested. Due to intelligence, we contained violence and criminal acts within the trucking industry.”
Nearly 700 people have been arrested since the violence broke out on September 1.
Mapisa-Nqakula said law enforcement agencies would ensure the authority of the state was not undermined.
Mapisa-Nqakula said 755 people had taken refuge at local police stations and had been moved to community centres in Katlehong.
“There are 527 adults and 228 children,” she said.
The defence minister also noted the department of home affairs had deported more than 10,000 undocumented Africans who were found to be in the country illegally.
“In the same period we have charged 1,048 employers for breaching immigration laws.”