Updated: March 7, 2021
South Africans have explained why they have been venting their frustration on foreign nationals who seem to be having it easier in their country.
“People of South Africa are hungry, they are sitting at home.. while companies in South Africa are employing foreigners …[because] its cheap labour. We are hungry and angry,” Sipho Zungu, chairman of the All Truck Drivers Foundation told AFP.
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Although Zungu said his group had nothing to do with the recent attacks, the Labor ministry spokesman Makhosonke Buthelezi last week told AFP that employers “prefer (foreign truck drivers) because they can work long hours at a much cheaper cost, so they tend to exploit them”.
Their comments came after taxi drivers clashed with police in Pretoria last week, and truckers started a nation-wide strike on Sunday to protest against the employment of foreign drivers.
The Mail & Guardian quoted the police chief as saying that on Sunday eleven trucks blocked the road to Richards Bay Harbor, one of the deepest natural harbors in Africa, and torched at least four vehicles.
The South African Transport and Allied Workers Union, which has over 200 000 members, has however distanced itself from the violence.
With all these tensions, protests and looting exploded on Sunday and continued on Monday and Tuesday.
On Monday, the South African police on Monday arrested dozens of people following widespread looting and protests in the transport industry linked to a wave of anti-foreigner sentiment.
At least 70 people have been arrested. They were part of hundreds of people who marched through Johannesburg’s Central Business District (CBD) earlier on Monday, plundering shops and torching cars and buildings, the police said in a statement.
The unrest started on Sunday when an old building in the CBD caught fire and collapsed, killing at least three people.
It then spread to two eastern suburbs and to the capital Pretoria, where local media reported shops burning in the Marabastad – a central business area largely populated by economic migrants.
Police also said they were investigating a death in Hillbrow, where a “member of the public” was allegedly shot by a group.
“At this stage police are still interviewing several people to establish the motive,” said a statement by the provincial commissioner, according to The Mail & Guardian.