Police are on alert following attacks in Jeppestown on shops owned by foreign nationals on Sunday night near the Denver Hostel.
MEC for community safety in Gauteng Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane visited Jeppestown on Sunday night following reports that a group had begun moving around the area, allegedly threatening foreign nationals.
“At around 9pm it was reported that a large group of men were doing the rounds in Jeppestown warning that Xeno attacks were imminent,” Nkosi-Malobane said in a message.
The MEC said that when she arrived she found that foreign nationals were being threatened, but said the South African Police Service had been deployed in response.
Most of the activity was near the Denver hostel where armed men reportedly gathered in groups. Other groups were reported to have been moving around Clarence Street, and near Commissioner Street in Jeppestown.
Some foreign nationals who were around the area told journalists that they had been warned xenophobic attacks were imminent in the area.
In recent weeks, attacks on foreign nationals had broken out in Rosettenville, in Johannesburg South, and in areas around Pretoria West.
Last Friday, an anti-foreigner march took place, as people protested for more jobs for South Africans. The attacks on foreign nationals have been laced with accusations that foreigners cause crime in South Africa and are partly responsible for unemployment of South Africans.
The African Diaspora Forum, a civic organisation for foreign nationals in South Africa, has responded saying foreign nationals must stop being criminalised.
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba has also called for a more responsible approach to be taken with regards to xenophobia, suggesting that Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba’s comments that “illegal immigrants” are linked to criminal activities might be to blame for the first round of attacks in Rosettenville.
Hostels in attacks yet again
Sunday night was the first instance of xenophobic activity around a hostel in Johannesburg since the latest wave of attacks had begun.
In 2015, which saw widespread violence against foreign nationals in Durban and Johannesburg, hostel dwellers in Jeppestown had running battles with police as they marched for the removal of foreign nationals.
Operation Fiela was launched nationwide following the renewed attacks on foreigners in 2015, but received much criticism after hostels in Johannesburg were raided and men were forced to strip down to their underwear.
In a press briefing last week, Gigaba maintained that Operation Fiela has not failed.
The police’s Mathapelo Peters has told EWN that Jeppestown will still be closely monitored on Monday morning.
“Our public order police and tactical response teams, as well as the police station in that cluster have been deployed there already, [they are] investigating and monitoring the situation,” Peters said.