SOUTH AFRICA 09/04/2019 South African truckers target foreign drivers as xenophobic violence spreads

South African truck drivers on Sunday launched a nationwide strike against the employment of foreign drivers, with some protesters resorting to blocking roads and torching vehicles driven by foreigners. The violence coincided with attacks against foreigners in Johannesburg and Pretoria on September 2 and 3 that left at least five people dead. Dozens more were arrested there, and in nearby townships, for the widespread looting and arson of foreign-owned businesses.

In the latest strike in the southeastern province of KwaZulu-Natal, at least 20 people were arrested. Many of them were found with weapons and devices filled with gasoline. Since March 2018, the Road Freight Association estimates that more than 200 people have been killed in attacks targeting foreign truck drivers in South Africa.

The organisation says that well over 1,000 vehicles have been destroyed in the process, and it has cost the local economy the equivalent of more than EUR70 million. Video released by Human Rights Watch shows a truck burning at the Olifantskop Pass in the Eastern Cape on Sept.1, the day a nationwide strike started against the employment of foreign drivers. Source: Human Rights Watch

South Africa is a major destination for migrants from the southern Africa region and beyond. While many have moved from neighbouring Lesotho, Mozambique and Zimbabwe in search of work, others come from as far as Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Foreigners have been repeatedly targeted in recent years.

An earlier wave of xenophobic attacks in 2015 resulted in looting, arson and the deaths of at least seven immigrants.

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