South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said that at least 10 people had been killed in a recent wave of rioting and violence directed at foreign nationals.
In a televised address on Thursday, the president gave an estimated death toll for the violence that has gripped parts of the country since Sunday, in which foreign workers have been targeted and dozens of shops looted or destroyed.
“We know that at least 10 people have been killed in the violence. Two of whom were foreign nationals,” Ramaphosa said. “Over the past few days our country has been deeply traumatized and troubled by acts of violence and criminality directed against foreign nationals and our own citizens.”
He assured that “the violence has largely subsided” while praising police and security agencies for their swift response. In Johannesburg and other nearby cities, police presence has been ramped up to deal with the unrest.
Assaults on foreign workers are not unheard of in South Africa, where intense economic competition with locals often translates into national or ethnic resentment – particularly in the business hub and capital city of Johannesburg. South African officials say the most recent wave of attacks were sparked by “fake news” and misinformation.
Following a series of reprisal attacks against South African businesses in Nigeria and threats to government workers there, South Africa’s FM Naledi Pandor ordered a temporary closure of all diplomatic offices in the country. Pandor has described the spate of violence in South Africa as an “embarrassment.”
Though neither of the two foreigners killed in this week’s violence have been identified as Nigerian, images and (WARNING: GRAPHIC) videos have circulated on social media alleging attacks on residents hailing from that country.