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South Africa says apartheid-era foes fan violence PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 26 May 2008

REUTERS, CAPE TOWN- South Africa's security chief accused rightwingers linked to the former apartheid government on Friday of fanning anti-foreigner violence that has spread to Cape Town, the second largest city and tourist centre.  

At least 42 people have been killed and more than 25,000 driven from their homes in 12 days of attacks by mobs who have stabbed, clubbed and burnt migrants from other parts of Africa they accuse of taking jobs and fuelling crime.

The South African government has been criticized for its slow reaction to the violence, which started in a Johannesburg township on May 11, and for not adequately addressing poverty widely blamed for the bloodshed.

But Manala Manzini, head of the National Intelligence Agency, told Reuters people linked to former apartheid security forces were stoking the violence.

"Definitely there is a third hand involved. There is a deliberate effort, orchestrated, well-planned," he said.

"We have information to the effect that elements that were involved in the pre-1994 election violence are in fact the same elements that have re-started contacts with people that they used in the past."

Manzini said some violence emanated from worker hostels where Zulu migrants traditionally live.

Much of the township bloodshed in the final years of apartheid involved brutal clashes between supporters of the Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the African National Congress, which has been in power since the end of white rule.

SHOCK

Africa Union chairman and Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said he was shocked by the attacks.

"The general feeling is of shock and disbelief on the current assaults and killings carried out indiscriminately against foreigners in some parts of South Africa," he told reporters in Arusha. "These are nothing but acts of thuggery."

South Africa's Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka apologized to those affected by the attacks while visiting Nigeria, one of the countries whose citizens are threatened.

"The violence is regrettable and shocking ... I want to apologize to those who have been affected and want to give the assurance that those who are responsible will be dealt with by the law," she said before meeting Nigeria's vice president.

Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, in Moscow, said the violence was giving her country a "very bad image", and that the government would deal with it decisively.

"It's a very embarrassing issue and a very serious issue," she told Reuters after meeting Russian ministers. "It's giving us a very bad image and we are serious about stamping it out."

The police and prosecuting office said they would work together to speed up cases linked to the violence, while the justice department was considering setting up special courts.

Police said mobs attacked Somalis and Zimbabweans overnight in Cape Town and looted their homes and shops. More shops were looted in Lwandle township near Strand, north of Cape Town, and Knysna, a resort town on the southwest coast.

Hundreds of migrants were evacuated from a squatter camp near Cape Town, hub of the prized tourist industry.

"We don't know the exact number of shops looted and burnt, but it's a lot," said Billy Jones, senior superintendent with the Western Cape provincial police. He added that a Somali died but it was unclear whether this was linked to the attacks.

Police said 200 people, including a 13-year-old youth, had been arrested for looting and being in possession of stolen goods since Thursday evening, while 1,200 foreigners were being housed in temporary shelters.

Authorities said a Malawian man was shot in Durban overnight and three other foreigners were stabbed in North West Province.

Earlier this week President Thabo Mbeki authorized the army to help quell the violence.

The violence comes amid power shortages and growing discontent which have rattled investors in Africa's biggest economy.

Officials in the tourism industry are worried overseas visitors will stay away. The country hopes to draw half a million extra tourists for the 2010 soccer World Cup.

Mozambique said nearly 13,000 migrants and their families had left South Africa. South Africans were beginning to leave that country in fear of reprisal attacks. Malawi said it had begun evacuating more than 850 of its citizens.

There are an estimated 3 million migrants fleeing Zimbabwe's economic collapse, making them the biggest group among some 5 million immigrants in a country of 50 million people.

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