Two Ethiopians have been gunned down in what was believed to be another xenophobia attack in South Africa, authorities confirmed yesterday.
The two victims, who ran a truck shop, were shot dead on Monday night by a group of armed men in Inchanga, west of Durban in eastern South Africa, said Willis Mchunu, a Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Community Safety and Liaison in Inchanga.
However, he said the attack might not be motivated by xenophobia but pure criminality.
“It is very disturbing, obviously criminals will latch onto anything that will have a cover for their activities but in this instance we have identified the problem as emanating from competition for business,” the official said.
Mchunu called for dialogue among business people when there were claims of illegality by foreign nationals.
“We are encouraging business people to use that correct approach, talk to police, department of community safety and liaison or government in general,” he said.
Mchunu identified the victims as 32-year-old Getechaw Paulos and 30-year-old Deselegn Daniel, two brothers.
The latest killing is reminiscent of recent attacks on foreigners in parts of the country.
Last month, xenophobia-related violence erupted in Soweto, southwest of Johannesburg. During the one-week violence that spread to several nearby townships, at least six people were killed and more than 100 foreign shops were looted.
On Friday, President Jacob Zuma pledged to contain attacks on foreigners in the country.
“We will ensure that all our people, including foreign nationals, always feel enveloped by an abiding sense of security wherever they are in the country,” Zuma said while accepting credentials from 11 foreign diplomats in Pretoria.
The government had refused to acknowledge that the recent attacks were related with xenophobia.
Government officials had consistently attributed such attacks to general crime, instead of recognizing it for xenophobic violence.
South Africa’s neighbors still face huge problems of underdevelopment and poverty and there has been a constant stream of economic refugees into South Africa, looking for work and an escape from poverty.
Cover Photo: South African demonstrating against xenophobia related attacks