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Nigerians in South Africa fearful after xenophobic attacks, seek refuge in police station

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Johannesburg - No fewer than 30 Nigerians living in South Africa arrived at the Primrose police station Wednesday night saying they were afraid, Gauteng police said after an afternoon of attacks and vehicle stonings in Johannesburg.

In Dobsonville area of Johannesburg, two Somalis and a Nigerian were attacked and robbed in their shop.

''The group came to the police station saying they are afraid for their lives,'' said Lieutenant-Colonel Lungelo Dlamini.

Earlier, groups of people had gathered in the Jeppestown section of Jules street, near the Wolhuter Hostel, and threw stones at passing cars.

An ambulance was parked outside the shop and one man was seen in the ambulance with a bandage around his head.

Residents stood around and were upset by the incident saying they did not understand why anybody would want to attack them.

One of the men was thought to have been pistol whipped and the other hit by a glass bottle.

A Nigerian shopowner Sam Tony, who had a shop in Hill Street said: “They came today, they took from the Senagalese [shop owner]. They came in their numbers, about 60 or 50. When they came we just closed our shops and stood outside.”

He said the looters arrived between 10:00 and 10:30.

Meanwhile, Congress of South African Trade Unions, COSATU, president Sdumo Dlamini said on Wednesday said that he did not want to refer to the attacks on foreign nationals around the country as xenophobia.

"If we say it is xenophobia, then it should be every foreigner, whether from Europe or Africa, should become a victim," he told reporters in Johannesburg.

"This is targeting Africans, this is targeting the shops of these African foreign nationals."

"The peculiarity is that this is focused on Africans living in poor communities... that is extremely worrying," he said.

"We are making a call to all our structures to go out in defence of foreign nationals in our country."

Per Second News gathered Thursday morning that humanitarian aid group the Gift of the Givers worked late into Wednesday night in Durban to help move groups of foreign nationals to safety, after a tense day of stand-offs between police and local and foreign residents.

“We are fetching people as we speak,” Dr Abdirisack Hashi, an official of the group said.

“We are trying to rescue some families who say they are stuck in a house.”'

Four hundred people were moved out of KwaMashu on Monday night after tensions flared-up and a teenager was shot dead, he said.

So far five people have died in the violence, being branded as xenophobic attacks.

A Nigerian, and two Ethiopians are believed to be amongst those killed with the police saying they will give more details Friday.

Per Second News learnt that the recent attacks on foreign nationals follow comments allegedly made by King Goodwill Zwelithini during a moral regeneration event in Pongola, northern KwaZulu-Natal.

It was reported that the king allegedly told a gathering that "foreigners must pack their bags and go home".

Zwelithini said on Friday that the media had chosen to "deliberately distort" his comments.

President Jacob Zuma's son Edward, who has come out in full support of Zwelithini's call, said on Tuesday that government had to stop unnecessarily accommodating foreign nationals

“What is happening in KwaZulu-Natal is exactly what I was talking about when I said South Africa is sitting on a ticking time bomb.

"People think that I am being xenophobic but I am not, I am just trying to make a point that we have a problem.