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South Africans riot and attack Somalis in Port Elizabeth

Photo from New Zimbabwe

Violence exploded  in Port Elizabeth Thursday as members of the native Xhosa community rampaged through immigrant areas. The main target was the Somali community. Xhosa leaders say the Somalians send money back to Somalia, which contributes to the further impoverishment of the area.

The riots started after a Somali immigrant killed two Zimbabwean immigrants. The Zimbabweans were allegedly robbing him.

Media outlets in Africa are reporting that “at least one Somalian” was killed. One Somalian was killed by being shot or stabbed. There are allegations that another Somalian was beaten by a mob and died when a teenage boy smashed a large rock over him.

The riots ended when the local police massed and used stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse the crowd. This was the second anti-immigrant riot in two weeks. Last week there were anti-immigrant riots in Johannesburg.

Much of the rest of Africa still views South Africa as better off, but South Africans see immigrants as speeding up their own decline. There has also been politically motivated violence against Zimbabweans by ANC hardliners for years.

Most of the immigrants are illegal aliens. In 2012 the South African government began the re-militarization of its border to stop illegal crossings.

From New Zimbabwean…

Amid widespread poverty and unemployment, frustration in South Africa’s run-down neighbourhoods often boils over into anti-immigrant violence. “I risk my life,” said a Somali man named Hassan who was helping his brother move.

“There are a lot of problems. A lot of people robbed the shop,” he added. “I must remove all this stuff.”

Some locals were adamant the foreigners were unwelcome.

“We don’t like the Somalis. They must just go,” one resident said.

Last week mobs looted foreign-owned stores in townships around Johannesburg.

Police arrested 93 people on Thursday and Friday for public violence and looting in Evaton, Sebokeng and Orange Farm in the south, local media reported.

The vandalism here started out as protests over poor service delivery.

The recent incidents have raised fears of a repeat of xenophobic attacks that killed some 62 people in 2008.

Watch report on “Xenophobic attacks” in South Africa.