A man was killed by protesters denouncing the inaction of the authorities in the face of violence and crime in a Johannesburg township, the South African police announced Thursday.
According to the public channel SABC and another media, the victim is a Zimbabwean immigrant. The murder comes amid growing popular anger over high crime rates, sometimes directed at immigrants accused of fuelling them.
Protests began Wednesday in the township of Diepsloot, after it was announced that seven people had been killed there last weekend.
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Residents, angry at the police for allegedly refusing to attend to one crime scene marched through the streets with chants and placards, burning tires and camping outside the local police station.
In the evening, a small group of protesters went door-to-door checking residents’ IDs, said police spokeswoman Brenda Muridili.
As they arrived in front of a house, a young man got out and ran away, she said. “They chased him and unfortunately he was killed,” she told state broadcaster SABC.
The crime took place hours after a visit to the area by Police Minister Bheki Cele and his police chief.
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Crime in South Africa, one of the world’s most violent countries, worsened further at the end of 2021, reaching 74 murders and 122 rape complaints per day in the last quarter, according to the government.
Since January, a movement called “Operation Dudula”, Zulu for “drive back”, has gathered a few hundred anti-immigration demonstration at each prostest.
This mobilization is fueled by the resentment of a part of South Africa’s youth who are victims of the high unemployment rate (more than 35% of the population), and the involvement of immigrants in certain crimes.
It is not the first xenophobic outbreaks in South Africa. Sixty-two people were killed in such riots in 2008. Violent clashes also broke out in 2015, 2016 and again in 2019.