Foreign nationals standing in a line facing the SA group and shouting inaudible slurs. (Mpho Raborife, News24)
About 136 people were arrested in Pretoria West over the past 24 hours, including during the march on Friday morning, acting national police commissioner Lieutenant General Kgomotso Phahlane said.
However, Phahlane said the situation in Pretoria was “under control”.
“Although people from Mamelodi marched peacefully, a group from Atteridgeville threw stones and bricks. Confrontation with non-South Africans ensued,” he told reporters.
The police said they would update the figure of the arrested individuals on Saturday.
President Jacob Zuma said the march in Pretoria was evidence that citizens were fed up with crime.
Zuma was speaking after the launch of Operation Phakisa, which is aimed at boosting various sectors of the South African economy.
He said the march included foreign nationals, was well organised, and was not xenophobic.
“We do have a big problem. This time around this has been provoked by crime.”
He said the media should be careful about labelling the protests as xenophobic and that political leaders should also be cautious with their messages.
Mamelodi marchers accuse foreigners of destroying local business
Jenna Etheridge, News24
The memorandum, with a “Concern community for service delivery in Mamelodi” stamp, said government should not allow African immigrants in the area to operate businesses freely and without regulation.
They also criticised authorities for “failing” to clamp down on those without the proper licences and papers.
“We are driven into slavery, both black and white South Africans,” they stated.
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This message seemed to contradict the assertion by President Jacob Zuma on Friday that the march in Pretoria was by residents who were fed up by crime.
Speaking after the launch of Operation Phakisa, Zuma said the march included foreign nationals, was well organised, and was not xenophobic.
The three-page memo bemoaned foreign nationals’ involvement in industries like retail, transport, and hospitality.
“Our local hair industry was not protected by Competitions [sic] commission against foreign people charging unfair prices now our industry is destroyed,” it stated.
“Our tuck-shops were destroyed because government did not protect local industries when they know people lack confidence.”
‘Must be deported’
They said African immigrants brought vehicles in from Zimbabwe to run delivery businesses locally, “not paying taxes, not having international drivers’ licences”.
They were opposed to immigrants operating transport businesses with tuk tuks and other methods.
They also felt it was unfair that people, including foreign nationals, were registering to become Uber drivers.
“Local industries are not supported and respected… Stop those businesses. Support the local meter [taxi industry].”
The residents felt that foreign nationals were “destroying” the country’s image.
They accused Zimbabwean churchgoers of messing in public parks and having a hand in attacks at the Groenkloef Nature Reserve.
“They must be deported; immigration must be involved and deport them we are working backwards as a country.”
On living conditions, they said residents had to pay a lot of money toward rent, water and electricity, yet people who invaded land and RDP houses did not have to pay anything.
Zuma said the media should be careful to label protests as xenophobic and that political leaders should also be cautious with their messages.
Crime affected everyone and people were fed up, he said.
“If there are people who occupy houses and use them for crime, this will make people angry. How do we fight crime?
“We must focus on drug lords and deal with them. Those are the gaps we need to close.”
Zuma urges understanding
Whether South African or foreign, criminals should be properly dealt with, Zuma said.
He said it would be a sad day when crime and drugs caused chaos in the country.
He also urged South Africans to be understanding toward foreign nationals.
He questioned how xenophobic South Africans were, saying, if they were, “this country wouldn’t have this many immigrants”.
He said only 5% of immigrants were refugees.
“The number of foreigners in South Africa is far more than in Europe. They don’t want immigrants.”
Zuma said he had met with ministers to discuss what they could do to fight crime.
He would also be talking to police.