Not less than 15 houses either belonging or rented by immigrants, especially Nigerians, have been burnt by angry South Africans in Rosettenvile, south of Johannesburg.
The attacks follow a community uprising against drugs and prostitution in the area, which was supported by a special metro police task team set up by Johannesburg mayor, Herman Mashaba.
Close to five hundred residents of Rosettenville went on an anti-drugs rampage, burning houses, and nightclubs owned by Nigerians. The residents of the area claim Nigerians had illegally taken over most properties and turned them into drug and prostitution dens.
Mamelodi Concerned Residents Association in Pretoria also claim that Zimbabweans and Pakistanis are stealing jobs and preventing the development of the South African community.
Africa Review reports on Sunday that some shops belonging to foreign nationals in the area were also looted.
The African Diaspora Forum (ADM) chairperson, Mr. Marc Gbaffou, confirmed the attacks and blamed Johannesburg Mayor, Herman Mashaba, for his inflammatory comments.
Early last December, Mr. Mashaba told a media conference that illegal immigrants got there criminally and should be treated as such.
On Friday, he visited Rosettenville where he made claims that foreign nationals were using girls as young as nine as prostitutes in ‘drug houses’.
Mr. Mashaba said:
“According to community members, these homes are illegally occupied by Nigerian foreign nationals who run the homes as brothels and have girls as young as nine years old working as prostitutes.
“Many of the women in these brothels are also alleged to have no official identification documentation.”
Gbaffou said it was reckless for the mayor to make such a statement without proof.
“What proof does he have that foreigners are running these brothels? His remarks are very inflammatory, and it makes no difference that he has diverted from illegal immigrants to drug peddling. It is very dangerous and we see it as propaganda of hatred,” he said.
A community leader, Mr. Andile Tshem, called on residents to desist from violence, adding that it was high time law enforcement agents took action against criminals.
“We don’t encourage this at all, you cannot correct a wrong with another wrong. South African people must not be living on the streets when foreigners are using houses as brothels,” he said.
Police have arrested a man found in one of the houses that were set alight in Rosettenville.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa, had last week expressed concern over the spate of extra-judicial killings of Nigerians by South Africans, and demanded speedy action on pending cases.
Mrs. Erewa who made the call in Abuja said that Nigeria has lost 116 persons to such killings in South Africa, in 2016 alone, 20 persons were killed, and that there was no justification for the killings she added.
Appealing to South African authorities to ensure that justice was done in the case of Nigerian killed last December, Mrs. Erewa also called on Nigerians wherever they are to obey the laws of the land.