South African president calls for arrests in xenophobic attacks

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has called for the arrest of those involved in a spate of attacks targeting foreign-owned businesses in the country.

Ramaphosa said in a statement that he had convened a security meeting with law enforcement agencies to stop “these acts of wanton violence.”

He said there was no justification for the attacks and warned that violence on foreign businesses could trigger xenophobic attacks against South Africans living abroad.

“There can be no justification for any South African to attack people from other countries.” Ramaphosa said in a series of videos on his official Twitter account. “We are against xenophobia. These attacks are completely against the rule of law.”

Five people have been killed in the unrest that started last week in Tshwane, Pretoria. By Tuesday, police had arrested 189 people allegedly involved in violence that flared Sunday in Johannesburg.

Mobs looted, burned and vandalized shops, properties and vehicles, South African police said. Police fired rubber bullets in some areas to disperse the crowds. Many foreign owned businesses were targeted in the violence.

Criminal gangs had also taken advantage of the chaos to break into other, locally-owned businesses, police added.

“It’s clear it’s pure criminal elements that are taking advantage of a volatile situation,” said