Police have fired rubber bullets to disperse rioters at a township in Johannesburg after crowds of people plundered shops and set fire to buildings, in the latest outbreak of urban rioting to hit South Africa‘s commercial capital.

Lungelo Dlamini, spokesman for police, said the clashes occured on Tuesday morning in the township of Alexandra.

“There was a protest at the old Alexandra mall. Police intervened and arrested seven people after they began looting,” he told Al Jazeera.

Rocks, bricks and rubber bullets strewed the empty streets of Alexandra on Tuesday, and Al Jazeera reporters at the scene saw police firing rubber bullets at a crowd of 50 people who were hurling rocks. About two dozen shops were vandalised or looted.

The clashes come amid a wave of violence in the city, with protesters setting fires to cars and targeting what appeared to be foreign-owned shops on Monday and Sunday. More than 90 people were arrested over the unrest, the police said.

News 24, a South African news agency, said Monday’s riots came after hundreds of people marched in Johannesburg’s Central Business District (CBD) demanding foreigners leave. They targeted “shops they believed to be owned by foreign nationals”, it reported.

Dlamini told Al Jazeera businesses owned by South Africans were also targeted on Tuesday.

“We don’t know what their motive is. They are just criminals who are looting and taking advantage of the situation,” he said.

Police Minister Bheki Cele dismissed reports the ongoing attacks were xenophobic.

“Xenophobia is just an excuse that is being used by people to commit criminal acts,” he told reporters on Monday afternoon. “It is not xenophobia, but pure criminality.”

In a statement on Monday, the South African Human Rights Commission said it was “deeply concerned by violence, looting, arson and vandalism plaguing much of Johannesburg.”

Meanwhile, Nigeria‘s Foreign Minister Geoffrey Onyeama reacted strongly to the scenes of violence on Monday.

“Received sickening and depressing news of continued burning and looting of Nigerian shops and premises in #SouthAfrica by mindless criminals with ineffective police protection,” he said on Twitter. “Enough is enough. We will take definitive measures.”

In 2015, Nigeria had recalled its ambassador to South Africa following a spate of attacks against immigrants.

https://newsoweto.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/shots.jpghttps://newsoweto.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/shots-150x150.jpgStaff Reporter2SA News
Police have fired rubber bullets to disperse rioters at a township in Johannesburg after crowds of people plundered shops and set fire to buildings, in the latest outbreak of urban rioting to hit South Africa's commercial capital. Lungelo Dlamini, spokesman for police, said the clashes occured on Tuesday morning in the township of...