S. Africa to deploy army over racist at­tacks


South African sol­diers will be de­ployed to quell anti-im­mi­grant vi­o­lence that has killed at least seven peo­ple in sev­eral weeks of un­rest, De­fense Min­is­ter No­siviwe Mapisa-Nqakula said Tues­day.

Po­lice have strug­gled to con­tain mobs who have at­tacked for­eign­ers from Zim­babwe, Malawi, Mozam­bique and other African coun­tries in both the eco­nomic cap­i­tal Jo­han­nes­burg and in the port city of Dur­ban.

The gov­ern­ment had vowed to crack down strongly on the un­rest, but the de­ci­sion to put sol­diers on the streets came af­ter two nights of rel­a­tive quiet in both cities.

“We come in as the last re­sort — the army will serve as a de­ter­rent,” Mapisa-Nqakula told re­porters, de­clin­ing to give de­tails on how many troops would be in­volved and where.

“There are peo­ple who will be crit­i­cal, but those who are vul­ner­a­ble will ap­pre­ci­ate this de­ci­sion,” she said.

“Now we de­ploy­ing be­cause there is an emer­gency.

“We are not here to take over the work of the po­lice. We are sim­ply here to give sup­port to what the po­lice are try­ing to do in their ef­forts to pre­vent a con­tin­u­a­tion of what we have seen.”

The spate of at­tacks has re­vived mem­o­ries of xeno­pho­bic blood­shed in 2008, when 62 peo­ple were killed in Jo­han­nes­burg’s town­ships, shak­ing South Africa’s post-apartheid im­age as a “rain­bow na­tion” of dif­fer­ent eth­nic groups.

The South African army was de­ployed to re­store or­der in the 2008 ri­ots, and has also been used against vi­o­lent strik­ers in 2012 and 2014.

The mil­i­tary pres­ence will fo­cus on the town­ship of Alexan­dra, a poor neigh­bor­hood that has been roiled by xeno­pho­bic vi­o­lence, in­clud­ing a Mozam­bi­can man stabbed to death in broad day­light on Satur­day.

Graphic pho­to­graphs of the killing were pub­lished in many South African and in­ter­na­tional news­pa­pers and web­sites.


The hands of dis­placed for­eign na­tion­als are pho­tographed as they stand out­side a shel­ter for dis­placed for­eign­ers in the east of Jo­han­nes­burg, South Africa, Tues­day, April 21.

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