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Johannesburg erupts in anti-immigrant violenc -

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ELEANOR HALL: In South Africa, at least a dozen people have been killed and scores wounded in a
wave of anti-immigrant violence in Johannesburg.

The violence has been so extreme that foreigners are fleeing to police stations.

And on the weekend a church where a thousand Zimbabweans had taken refuge was attacked.

South Africa has long been a magnet for those fleeing tyranny and poverty elsewhere on the
continent but the immigrants, who compete for local jobs and housing are causing resentment, and
that has now exploded into violence, as Africa correspondent Andrew Geoghegan reports.

ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: Between two and four million foreigners have fled to South Africa in search of
refuge and opportunity.

Most are Zimbabweans, who are living here illegally. They've tried escaping economic hardship and
persecution at home only to find that South Africa is even more inhospitable.

ZIMBABWEAN IMMIGRANT: Although the situation is tough I won't go back to Zimbabwe because I will
suffer from hunger or whatever. Everything in Zimbabwe is too high.

ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: For the past week the townships in and around South Africa's largest city
Johannesburg have been riven with xenophobic violence.

No one seems sure what sparked the initial attacks, which killed two people. But since then mob
violence has taken hold and on the weekend more foreigners were targeted brutally.

Police spokeswoman, Cheryl Engelbrecht.

CHERYL ENGELBRECHT: We have average of five people who's been killed. Two of them were burnt to
death and others were just assaulted.

(sounds of gunfire)

ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: Police firing tear gas and rubber bullets have tried to break up the gang
violence, but the attacks are continuing.

Homes and businesses belonging to legal migrants have been looted and torched. Hundreds of people
have sought refuge in police stations and churches.

Triaphose Mbatini is a Zimbabwean, who's here legally, yet he's still being victimised.

TRIAPHOSE MBATINI: Our houses have been vandalised by these Zulu people. And then they say we
should back to our home countries even though if you are somebody with a permit, or a passport or
whatever document we have, but you should go back to your home country because they do not want
other trouble inside South Africa.

ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: These foreigners are being blamed for South Africa's social ills. In the black
townships there's an acute shortage of housing, unemployment is above 40 per cent and crime is

The locals accuse the immigrants of taking their jobs and their homes as well as fuelling crime.

ZIMBABWEAN IMMIGRANT: Things are pressing here in South Africa. People are coming into our places,
fighting us.


ZIMBABWEAN IMMIGRANT: They are saying, "you are taking our jobs', and I don't think that's the real
truth that we are taking their jobs. They are just doing it for the disadvantage of family, like
taking our things and selling them.

ANDREW GEOGHEGAN: The violence has prompted a rare public statement from former president Nelson
Mandela who's called for an end to the madness.

But it seems that even his appeal is falling on deaf ears.

This is Andrew Geoghegan in Johannesburg for The World Today.