Thursday, May 22, 2008

Crisis Deepens and Spreads: Xenophobia Violence Mobs Johannesburg

Deaths have doubled in a day from 22 to 42, with displaced refugees trippling from around 10 000 to 28 533. 400 people have been arrested so far. Many immigrants, especially Mozambicans, have elected to return home, while other groups have begun moving to border control areas. South Africa has mobilised its army to deal with the spreading crisis.

Mbeki calls in military as SAfrica mob deaths double

South African President Thabo Mbeki called in troops Wednesday to halt attacks on foreigners as the death toll nearly doubled and violence began spreading across the country.
In northeastern Mpumalanga, police said businesses owned by foreigners had been looted overnight in the Leslie and Embalenhle townships.

"They looted six tuck shops and burnt three. Some belonged to Zimbabweans and some to Somalis," a police officer told the SAPA news agency from the scene of the attacks.

The foreigners, most of whom have fled the economic meltdown in neighbouring Zimbabwe, have been blamed for the sky-high rates of crime in South Africa as well as for depriving locals of jobs.

The unofficial unemployment rate in South Africa is believed to be about 40 percent.

Meanwhile the damage to the country's reputation from the violence -- reminiscent of that seen in townships during the whites-only apartheid era -- was highlighted as the rand currency dropped against the dollar and the euro.

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