Africa

South Africa violence: Zulu king appeals for calm

Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Zulu king addressed thousands who went to a stadium to see him speak

Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has asked for an end to violence after attacks against migrants in South Africa.

The king told crowds of thousands at a stadium in Durban that previous reports that he said foreigners should "go back to their countries" were distorted.

He has been accused of fuelling attacks in which at least seven people died.

Hostile sections of the crowd sang songs calling for immigrants to leave and booed a speaker who said foreigners had the right to live in South Africa.

In King Zwelithini's speech he called recent violence shameful and vile. "We need to make sure no more foreigners are attacked," he urged.

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Media captionKaren Allen reports from the rally in Durban
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Zulu king spoke to thousands at a traditional gathering called an imbizo
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption While King Zwelithini stuck to a suit and tie, some turned up in Zulu regalia

He said accusations against him of inciting violence were incorrect because the country has only been shown a portion of his speech.

"If it were true that I said foreigners must go, this country would be up in flames," he added.

More than 300 people have been arrested. Among the latest arrests were three men detained in connection with the murder of a Mozambican national in Alexandra, a township in Johannesburg.

South African photojournalist James Oatway witnessed Emmanuel Sithole being stabbed to death in broad daylight and has spoken to the BBC about what he saw:

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Media captionJames Oatway, a South African photojournalist, witnessed the killing of a Mozambican man

Except for Mr Sithole, those killed have been in Durban, the biggest city in South Africa's KwaZulu-Natal province. They are an Ethiopian man, a Mozambican man, a man believed to be from Zimbabwe and three South Africans.

In other developments:

  • Students at the University of Johannesburg have protested against the attacks
  • South African Football Association has announced two friendly matches against neighbouring countries to counteract the hostility towards migrants
  • Zimbabwe's government has sent buses to repatriate its citizens
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Some South African accuse foreigners of taking their jobs
Image copyright AFP
Image caption In response, some foreign nationals, like these Zimbabweans, have fled home

South African President Jacob Zuma has condemned the attacks, saying they "go against everything we believe in".

With the unemployment rate at 24%, many South Africans accuse foreign nationals of taking jobs from locals.

Official data suggests there are about two million foreign nationals in South Africa, but some estimates put the number much higher.

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