SOUTH Africa defended its efforts to stop attacks on migrant workers against criticism from around the continent that it isn’t doing enough to end the worst anti- foreigner violence in years.
A seventh person has died in the unrest that began earlier this month in the coastal city of Durban and spread last week to Johannesburg, the government said Sunday. A man from Mozambique was stabbed Saturday in the Johannesburg township of Alexandra, according to the local Sunday Times newspaper which ran pictures of the attack.
African countries including Ghana, Malawi and Zimbabwe have called for stronger action from the South African government to protect their nationals.
More than 5,000 people have fled their homes and shops have been looted and razed, according to the United National refugee agency. The dead include three South Africans, as well as four foreigners.
“We are satisfied that the security measures that are currently in place are sufficent to bring the situation under control,” Malusi Gigaba, home affairs minister, told reporters in Pretoria on Sunday. “We will do whatever it takes to maintain law and order.”
He said 307 people have been arrested over public order- related offenses and would be tried in dedicated courts set up to speed the process. The government also has provided food and shelter to 1,026 foreigners and will help them resume lives within their communities, he said, reading from a government statement.
South Africans are taking out their frustration over high unemployment and poverty on foreigners, State Security Minister David Mahlobo said at the same news conference. He said the government’s plan for fostering economic growth and development deals with these issues.
Some poor South Africans see Somalis, Ethiopians, Malawians and Pakistanis as competitors for jobs and business opportunities in a country with 24% unemployment.
One fifth of the population of 54 million survive on less than 335 rand ($28) a month.
South Africa currently hosts about 65,000 refugees and 295,000 asylum seekers, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency.
President Jacob Zuma, who has denounced the violence as an attack on South African values, on Saturday canceled a state visit to Indonesia to visit a camp for some of those displaced.
The anti-immigrant attacks are the worst since 2008, when about 60 people died and 50,000 were forced to flee their home