(Aljazeera) — After weeks of violence, primarily in KwaZuluNatal, thousands expected take part in solidarity rally in Durban.
Thousands of people are expected to attend a march in South Africa’s coastal city of Durban in solidarity with the country’s foreign nationals.
The march, on Thursday, which includes religious leaders and concerned citizens, comes after weeks of attacks against foreign nationals in which at least five people have been killed and 74 people arrested since the end of March, according to Colonel Jay Naicker, the police spokesperson.
As many people prepared to march in the coastal city of Durban in KwaZulu-Natal, many shops also remained closed in the business capital of the country, Johannesburg in the Gauteng province fearing attacks as well.
Groups of people were said to be travelling to Durban from other provinces to join in the show of solidarity with the foreign nationals.
Al Jazeera’s Haru Mutasa, reporting from Durban, tweeted the following:
She said that people had been gathering and that while the numbers were not yet big, the crowd was expected to grow.
Similar attacks occurred in 2008 in which at least 60 people were killed.
Messages circulating on social media warned people in Gauteng province and KwaZulu-Natal to be on high alert for possible attacks and to also remain indoors.
In Malawi, officials have set up transit camps expected to house Malawians returning to the country, Kondwani Nankhumwa, the country’s information minister, said.
More than 2,000 foreigners have already sought shelter in refugee camps in Durban, a South African aid group said on Wednesday.
The refugee camps, set up on sports fields around Durban, will not be large enough if attacks on immigrants continue, said Imtiaz Sooliman of the Gift of the Givers organisation.
Those who can afford it are planning to leave the country, he said.
“They’ve lost their houses, they’ve lost their businesses, they’ve lost everything,” Sooliman said.
The organisation made the following appeal to the government on social media on Wednesday:
Whilst we make a call on all South Africans to support our initiative to show that we are a nation that cares, we also call on government…
South Africa President Jacob Zuma condemned the violence and assigned several cabinet ministers to work on the problem with officials in KwaZulu-Natal province.
The government is addressing South African citizens’ “complaints about illegal and undocumented migrants, the takeover of local shops and other businesses by foreign nationals as well as perceptions that foreign nationals perpetrate crime”, Zuma’s office said in a statement.
He also issued a warning to illegally operating foreign-owned businesses to close their doors.
Some foreign nationals boycotted the march in protest against the South African government’s efforts to resolve the problem.
Our correspondent tweeted the following from the march:
Thousands of foreigners flee to South African police stations after attacks
April 16, 2015 (CNN)–More than 2,000 people fled to South African police stations Thursday after mobs armed with machetes attacked foreigners in Durban, leaving at least five people dead, an aid group said.
The attacks in the port city killed two foreigners and three South Africans, including a 14-year-old boy, authorities said.
Heavily armed police scrambled to stop the clashes after local residents took to the streets this week, accusing foreigners from other African nations of taking their jobs.
“There has been an outpouring of support from ordinary South Africans who are disgusted with the attacks not only because they are foreign, or African, but because they are fellow human beings,”said Gift of the Givers charity, which is helping those seeking refuge at police stations.
“We are preparing aid packages for those who may journey onwards to their home countries.”
The aid group said it hopes the violence is limited to Durban, but assured foreigners it has a facility in Johannesburg to help those who might need shelter there.
“We have tents and all essential supplies on standby but pray that sanity prevails and this does not become necessary,” it said.
In the past, Johannesburg has been the epicenter of anti-foreigner tensions.
In 2008, scores were killed in attacks on foreigners in the poorest areas of Johannesburg. Most of the victims were Zimbabweans who had fled repression and dire economic circumstances. In that attack, police arrested more than 200 people for various crimes including rape, murder, robbery and theft.