Police keeping an eye on protesters against foreign nationals at Cornerstone in Verulam Picture Bongani Mbatha/ African News Agency (ANA)

Durban - Police are on standby as locals threatened foreign nationals living in an informal settlement in Verulam, telling them to leave South Africa.

The residents say the foreigners are being hired by factories in preference to South Africans.

A protest was held at the Cornerstone informal settlement on Monday, with a spokesperson for the community, who gave his name as “Majola”, saying they wanted foreigners to leave.

“People in the community of Cornerstone are not working; only foreign nationals are working. These are people who have no identity documents and do not vote, but we, the voting public, are not employed,” he said.

The situation was tense in the area with tuck shops belonging to foreign nationals closed.

A resident said the owners of a tuck shop next door to her had run away on Sunday night after community members had demanded that foreign nationals leave the area.

Foreign nationals said they were heartbroken by the developments.

Abubaker Anusa said Cornerstone residents had wanted to enter the compound he was living in on Monday, but were stopped at the gates by police.

The father of one, who comes from Malawi, said the crowd had accused him and his colleagues of taking jobs away from them and he was afraid of being beaten.

Anusa’s colleagues said they wanted to return to their home countries, but did not have the money to do so.

The incident comes as tensions between locals and foreigners rise around the country.

Police announced at the weekend that they had arrested a Himeville man for inciting people to attack foreigners.

Metro police spokesperson Senior Superintendent Parboo Sewpersad said officers had been strategically placed around the city to deal with incidents.

Daniel Dunia, of the African Solidarity Network, said the current tensions had the possibility of sparking violence similar to that which flared up in 2015 in Durban.

Daily News