A policeman pulls a blanket off an unidentified man who was set alight in Reiger Park, south of Johannesburg. (AP)
Mhambi is refreshing his news feeds, and the news is getting scarier and scarier. Should the government not deploy the army? We need to stop this violence against foreigners now.
A policeman guarding a victim of the attacks in Johannesburg. Photograph: Kim Ludbrook/EPA
Mhambi this evening spoke to a friend in the know and they cautioned against the use of the army. The SANDF is not trained to deal with these kinds of situations and there are serious question marks over the armies current training in general.
Much better to deploy more police apparently. The Police have more local knowledge and can deal with the subtleties of each situation. The army is a blunt instrument and could make the situation worse.
But perhaps the SANDF could be deployed to guard certain areas while the police go to work on the mobs.
Imtiaz Sooliman of the Gift of the Givers, a charity group that has been handing out blankets and food to affected people all week, said his organization had been called in to help at a police station in Germiston, east of the Johannesburg city center.
He said that violence had raged for four hours overnight and that by the end of it 2,000 people were waiting for help.
"My staff said it was like a war zone," Sooliman said. "There was lots of police, and stones being thrown. They said it looked like the police couldn't cope."
Eric Goemaere, the head of Médecins Sans Frontières in South Africa, said his staff was helping to treat people with bullet wounds and back injuries - the result of being thrown out of windows.
He said that the Central Methodist Church in Johannesburg, home to hundreds of Zimbabweans, had been under siege overnight and that the police had told people they should be prepared to defend themselves.
"It's a crisis," Goemaere said. He called on the government to declare Zimbabweans - there are believed to be up to three million in South Africa - as refugees and give them proper protection.
Apparently the Johannesburg CBD is a war zone.
PASSOP's Braam Hanekom has expressed fears that the violence will spread to the Cape.
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People Against Suffering Suppression Oppression and Poverty (Passop) spokesperson Braam Hanekom said what foreigners in Alexandra had experienced was appalling.
Hanekom went as far as comparing the treatment foreigners received in parts of South Africa to the treatment the Jews suffered in the early years of "Hitler's rule in Germany".
"They are hunted down, searched for their IDs and chased away. The state needs to take a fair share of blame as they are the ones who do not give the immigrants the necessary documents they need to live in this country.
"By not giving these immigrants the necessary documents, communities interpret that as if they are criminals. We've got a huge problem of thousands of immigrants not having documents to be in this country."
He said he hoped the latest string of xenophobic attacks would not spread south, although he feared there was a good chance they would.