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Residents Loot Foreigners' Shops in South Africa's Soweto

Thursday, 22 Jan 2015 09:32 AM

South Africa's police sent more officers to Soweto, Johannesburg's largest township, after two people died and 68 were arrested during violence targeting foreign-owned shops.

Residents looted shops owned by foreigners after a store owner shot and killed a 14-year-old boy who was part of a group of teenagers trying to rob his shop, Lesetja Mothiba, the South African Police Service's commissioner for Gauteng province, told reporters on Thursday. A foreigner was shot dead on Wednesday during skirmishes, he said.

"I am confident that the situation is under control and has been stabilized," Mothiba said, appealing to residents not to take the law into their own hands. "Police are taking a strong action and will not allow lawlessness to prevail.

Some locals accuse foreigners of taking jobs and services away from South Africans in a country where one in four adults is unemployed. In 2008, about 60 people were killed in xenophobic violence across South Africa that displaced as many as 50,000 people.

The people arrested will appear in a court on charges including murder, attempted murder, public violence and possession of dangerous firearms, Mothiba said. Seven foreigners were arrested for possessing illegal guns, he said.

Police officials said the violence was isolated incidents of looting and criminality rather than hate attacks against foreigners. About 81 foreign-owned shops in the township in southwestern Johannesburg, mostly owned by Pakistani nationals, were looted, he said.

Some of the people targeted in the violence have fled Soweto, said Aznen Nengovhela, a local police station commander.

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South Africa's police sent more officers to Soweto, Johannesburg's largest township, after two people died and 68 were arrested during violence targeting foreign-owned shops.
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