Police in Johannesburg, South Africa have arrested at least 41 people following Monday’s unrest in what has been deemed as xenophobic attacks on foreigners.
A video shared online showed hundreds of people marching through the Central Business District looting and torching cars with the targeted shops reported to be owned by foreign nationals.
Police were forced to lob tear gas and fire rubber bullets in an attempt to restore calm.
According to BBC Africa, the country’s police minister, Bheki Cele termed the violence as a “criminality rather than xenophobia” for the “senseless violence”.
“Xenophobia is used as an excuse,” he told reporters after visiting the city’s Central Business District, where much of the unrest has been taking place. “Nothing… has sparked any form of conflict between the South Africans and foreign nationals.” Said Cele.
The Monday violence spread to Jeppestown,Denver, Malvern and Tembisa areas.
Nigerian Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama has however lashed out at South African authorities for allegedly failing to protect Nigerian nationals in Johannesburg.
“Received sickening and depressing news of continued burning and looting of Nigerian shops and premises in #SouthAfrica by mindless criminals with ineffective police protection. Enough is enough. We will take definitive measures,” said Onyeama.
The latest unrest is reported to have began on Sunday when a building in Johannesburg’s Central Business District caught fire and collapsed, killing at least three people.