CAPE TOWN, April 1 (Xinhua) -- President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday vowed to bring to book the perpetrators of the current spate of violence against foreigners.
While condemning the violence, Ramaphosa called on law enforcement agencies and law-abiding citizens to identify those perpetrators and bring them to book.
There can be no justification for criminality, the president said.
He was reacting to newly-erupted xenophobia-related attacks on foreign nationals in some parts of the country, particularly in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal Province where mobs armed with metal rods and machetes broke into the homes of foreigners to chase them away and loot their belongings last week.
In the attacks, at least six people were killed and several others severely injured, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Several shops run by foreigners have been looted, vandalized or set on fire, said the agency.
The attacks were linked to protests over unemployment that turned into brutal violence against foreigners in some areas in Durban.
Foreigners are blamed for taking up jobs that should have been taken by locals. A message that has been circulating on social media since last week calls for protest action against the employment of foreigners as truck drivers and security guards.
If communities are disaffected for any reason, grievances must be raised with the government and must be done within the confines of the law, Ramaphosa said.
The violence against Malawian and other nationals in KwaZulu-Natal is particularly regrettable on the eve of South Africa's Freedom Month which is celebrated in April, the president said.
"As South Africans, we owe our freedom to the solidarity and support given to our liberation struggle by people across our continent and around the world," he said.
South Africa's economy and society benefits from its extensive trade and investment relations with partners on the continent and many of the continental compatriots live in South Africa where they are making important contributions to the development of the country, said Ramaphosa.
"African development depends on the increased movement of people, goods and services between different countries for all of us to benefit. We will not allow criminals to set back these processes," Ramaphosa said.
Also on Monday, South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Lindiwe Sisulu and Minister of Police Bheki Cele jointly convened a meeting with the African diplomatic community in Pretoria to discuss the current spate of violence against foreign nationals and their properties.
South Africa is host to some 274,000 refugees and asylum-seekers, according to the UNHCR.
Xenophobia-related attacks are not uncommon in South Africa. In 2015, widespread violence against foreigners broke out in parts of the country, leaving several foreigners killed. Ever since, sporadic incidents of xenophobia-related attacks have been reported.