Heavy Police Presence Amid Xenophobic Clashes

“We don’t have all the details yet, and I can only confirm that there definitely were some attacks.

“We’re still sketchy on exactly how many and we’re busy investigating the motives,” said Brigadier Govindsamy Mariemuthoo, police spokesman for the province.

“This kind of thing starts up late at night and then quietens down. It seems everything is calm but tense in the area this morning.”

Clashes broke out in the informal settlement at about 10.45pm on Monday, possibly sparked by a robbery deep inside the settlement in northern Johannesburg.

At least five people were wounded on Monday night – four of them foreigners and one a South African whose screams that he was not a foreigner were not heeded by the mob who attacked him and left him with a massive gash on the back of his head.

Eyewitness News reporter Alex Eliseev said running battles took place throughout the night until calm eventually prevailed from about 1am.

He said a heavy police presence, a patrolling nyala and an overhead helicopter did much to ensure that there were no more violent outbreaks.

Two injured men were pulled out of the area by paramedics after they sustained deep cuts to their heads. One of them described having been attacked with an axe.

A woman and her partner tried to outrun an angry mob of about 20 South Africans. She fell and was kicked as she lay on the ground before being wrapped in a blanket and carried to safety by her partner. She was taken to hospital for treatment.

The South African man who was injured told how an angry mob had asked him where he was from and then attacked him before he could respond. He was also taken to hospital with a deep head wound.

Mariemuthoo has maintained the consistent police line that the attacks were not necessarily motivated by xenophobia and that a criminal motive was also under investigation.

Local residents were said to be jealous of the success of informal businesses established by foreigners and were believed to be behind much of the looting that had taken place. Independent Online