CULLINAN: Police said Wednesday they had arrested a Pakistani man accused of opening fire on a crowd of protesters in a South African town east of Pretoria and injuring several people.
Rioting township residents hurled rocks and barricaded roads protesting the murder of a 10-year-old boy allegedly beaten to death with a golf club by a Pakistani shop owner.
“The boy was assaulted by one of the Pakistanis allegedly because he was stealing sweets,” said the police. “He died in hospital yesterday.”
Residents went on the rampage overnight, ransacking around 15 foreign-owned shops, according to police.
“One Pakistani guy was trying to get out of the protest area, and he was firing shots towards the protesters,” police spokesperson Marissa van der Merwe told AFP.
The suspect was arrested.
Both South Africans and Pakistanis had been wounded in the clashes, according to police who did not give specific numbers.
Foreign shop-owners including Pakistanis and Somalis had to flee the area as tensions mounted.
The protesters later turned their anger on police, pelting them with rocks. The officers responded with rubber bullets and tear gas.
A car belonging to a Pakistani national was also set alight.
With poverty rife and unemployment widespread, frustration in South Africa’s run-down neighbourhoods often boils over into anti-immigrant violence.
“We don’t want to see any Pakistani, Indian, Somalian,” said Dineo Mutsipi, a resident of Refilwe township.
“They are killing our kids, they are taking our business. We are sick and tired of them.”
“We promise that if they come back again to our location (township), we are going to kill them as they have killed our kids.”
Somali shop worker Bashir Hajyi, who has lived in South Africa for the past four years, described how his house came under attack overnight.
“There were all stones coming from all over the sides, from the roof, from the windows, from all over,” he told AFP.
“It’s better that they take us back, deport us back to our own countries.”
An explosion of deadly xenophobic attacks across poor South African areas in 2008 killed more than 60 people and displaced thousands into camps.