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Army called in to quell South Africa violence -

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Army called in to quell South Africa violence

The World Today - Thursday, 22 May , 2008 12:19:55

Reporter: Emily Bourke

ELEANOR HALL: In South Africa the President has called in the army to try to end the 11 days of
violence which has so far killed 42 people and forced tens of thousands of immigrants to flee their
homes.

The bloodshed has now spread from Johannesburg to Durban as South African gangs armed with rocks,
knives, clubs and guns roam townships looking for foreigners whom they accuse of taking jobs from
locals.

The immigrants, many of them from Zimbabwe, have sought refuge in police stations, churches and
community halls.

But now police are calling for military support to cope with the escalating problem, as Emily
Bourke reports.

EMILY BOURKE: The presence of South African troops and heavily armed police on the streets of
Johannesburg hasn't been seen since the worst days of apartheid.

But such is the extent of the violence and the depth of anti-immigrant sentiment, the Government
has called on the military to back up local police as they try to rein in the armed gangs.

Since the violence flared 11 days ago, the death toll has climbed to more than 40 and authorities
have arrested 400 people, while up to 30,000 have been forced from their homes.

Immigrants from Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Malawi and Somalia have been the main targets. Shanty-town homes
and taverns have been torched and there are some reports of people being burned alive.

Hundreds of Mozambicans are now desperate to leave, clambering onto buses for the journey home.

VOX POP (translated): We were getting help, supporting our families. Some treated us well. We were
also grateful for Mozambique for their help. Today we are able to go home. We are very, very happy.
We thank our President and all these other countries that were able to help. Today we are going
home to Mozambique. We are grateful. Thank you.

EMILY BOURKE: The South African President says citizens from other countries deserve to be treated
with respect and dignity, but there's anger over unemployment and foreigners taking up the scarce
number of jobs.

Jacob Zuma is the leader of the ruling African National Congress.

JACOB ZUMA: If you talk about the skilled kind of workers, certainly many of the Zimbabweans who
come are skilled people. But as you know, in South Africa, blacks were deprived education. Even if
the Zimbabweans did not come, they wouldn't be able to take some of the jobs.

EMILY BOURKE: While Jacob Zuma says xenophobia is driving the conflict there are other criminal
elements behind the unrest.

JACOB ZUMA: The perpetrators are perpetrators and they are wrong and I'm saying what we've detected
so far is criminality that is going on, and the victims are victims. And this must not be done to
foreigners. They are there because they come from countries that have problems.

Our Constitution protects everybody - protects the citizens of South Africa, protects anyone who is
in South Africa, and that is what we should do, that is what we need to uphold.

RAYMOND LOUW: We've had a remarkably peaceful transition, given the state where we were, and now to
have to call troops in to quell disorder of this kind is of course very worrying.

EMILY BOURKE: Raymond Louw is the editor of the Southern Africa Report in Johannesburg. He spoke to
Radio National Breakfast this morning.

RAYMOND LOUW: There is no doubt that xenophobia plays a part. But there is also of course the
opportunistic element in our, among our unemployed people who have taken advantage of the situation
to in fact rape, murder and steal. There's no doubt that the main stream of this problem is in fact
xenophobia.

EMILY BOURKE: And he says Thabo Mbeki's policy of quiet diplomacy or non-interference in the
affairs of Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe may have had a hand in the unrest.

RAYMOND LOUW: Our Government has allowed without intervention, it's allowed the people displaced
in, or people who feel that they can't get jobs in Zimbabwe as a result of the collapse of the
economy there, to infiltrate into South Africa and not only infiltrate but rather come across our
borders in large numbers.

And that's caused of course a problem - not a question so much of what he could have done apart
from condemning what has happened in Zimbabwe and the conduct of the President there, which has
caused the collapse of that country economically and politically.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Raymond Louw, the editor of the Southern Africa Report in Johannesburg ending
Emily Bourke's report.