JUST IN : Armed South African Protesters Demand Foreigners To Leave

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Armed protesters are on the streets of Johannesburg, South Africa demanding the immediate departure of foreigners.

Sowetan Live, a South African newspaper, said the protesters, who carried weapons such as knobkerries, are waiting to be addressed by Mangosuthu Buthelezi, a notable politician, and Zulu tribe leader.

Residents of hostels in eastern Johannesburg earlier on Sunday marched along Jules Street in the area, demanding that  “foreigners must go back to where they came from”.

The protesters, who carried weapons such as knobkerries, were heading to Jules Park where former IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi is expected to address them. Last week shops owned by foreign nationals were looted and some set alight in the area.

Violence quickly spread to other areas in Gauteng province, causing havoc for police and government.

The group of hostel-dwellers has maintained it wanted foreign nationals to leave, without indicating clear reasons for their call.

The attacks on foreigners, more so the traders, in the past week have been condemned by government and President Cyril Ramaphosa. By Friday, at least seven people had died and over 400 people arrested over the violent clashes.

However, the leadership of hostel dwellers in Johannesburg has asked the government to engage the citizens about finding solutions to the clashes with foreign nationals. Siphiwe Mhlongo, chairman of hostel headmen (izinduna) in Gauteng, who spoke to Sowetan in Malvern, eastern Johannesburg.

“We are not happy with how the government has tried to resolve the problems that the country is facing. The government must come to speak to the people and explain what it is going to do with the foreign nationals who are here illegally,”Mhlongo said.

He said the residents were angry at jobs being taken by foreign nationals, unhappy about drugs and RDP houses being owned by foreigners. “Everyone who is in South Africa has that feeling that foreign nationals must go back home. But we don’t say foreign nationals must be beaten up; we are leaders.”

Mhlongo was speaking in Belgravia, eastern Johannesburg, ahead of Buthelezi scheduled address on Sunday.

The protest is coming one week after attacks on foreigners sparked reactions across the continent.

Nigeria, Rwanda, and Malawi pulled out of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Cape Town while Zambia canceled an international friendly match with South Africa over the violence against foreigners.

In reprisal attacks in Nigeria, South Africa-owned businesses were targeted.

An MTN office was burnt down in Ibadan, Oyo state, while another office of the telecoms giant was vandalized in Abuja.

MTN had to shut down its offices nationwide while it issued a statement to condemn xenophobia.