Violence against foreigners has intensified in South Africa, spreading from townships to the centre of Johannesburg. Over the weekend, angry mobs shot and stabbed people and looted properties. According to some reports, 12 people have been killed, at least two of whom were burnt to death. Up to 50 were taken to hospital. Hundreds fled their homes and sought refuge at police stations.
The attacks are motivated by fears that the newcomers – most of them Zimbabweans – are boosting crime and taking scarce jobs. Police say criminals are using the violence as a cover for looting.
President Thabo Mbeki says he has set up a panel to look into the attacks. The South African Red Cross says it is launching an appeal to help displaced people.