Thousands of protesters marched through central Johannesburg against South Africa’s worst outbreak of anti-immigrant violence since 2008 that has claimed the lives of seven people.
The demonstration in support of the “No to Xenophobia” campaign drew as many as 30,000 people Thursday, including David Makhura, the premier of Gauteng, South Africa’s richest province, according to rally organizer Butho Mpofu. People from Zimbabwe, Malawi, Ethiopia, China and India attended the event along with thousands of South Africans, he said.
“We want to show the other side of South Africa, one that is welcoming of foreigners and has universal respect for human rights, especially our African brothers who helped us in the struggle for liberation,” Mpofu, 28, said by phone.
Parliament will be postponed next week to allow political leaders to help efforts to stop the attacks that broke out this month in the eastern coastal city of Durban as well as Johannesburg. The government deployed the army on April 21 to help police quell violence.
Some poor citizens see foreigners, mainly from other African countries, as competitors for jobs and business opportunities in a country with a 24 percent unemployment rate.