Violence and looting in the capital Pretoria last week. File picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

Pretoria - The government of Zimbabwe on Wednesday urged its citizens based in South Africa, or travelling to the neighbouring country to "take necessary precaution" in the wake of widespread attacks on foreign business owners and looting of their goods.

"All Zimbabweans living in South Africa, and those travelling to the country are urged to take necessary precaution to ensure their safety," said Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa.

The Harare authorities expressed "heartfelt sympathies to all Zimbabweans and other African nationals who suffered from the senseless orgy of violence in South Africa".

Mutsvangwa added: "The government and people of Zimbabwe condemn the barbaric acts, which clearly offends the spirit of African unity and solidarity espoused by the African Union's founding fathers in Addis Ababa in 1963".

"These despicable attacks come at an opportune time when African leaders have just launched a continent-wide Africa Free Trade Area, which has opened exciting economic opportunities that facilitate free movement of capital, labour, goods, and services."

The government of Zimbabwe however applauded the Pretoria authorities "for their swift intervention to end the violence and bring the perpetrators to book."

On Wednesday, the South African Police Service said close to 300 people have been arrested, ensuring a marked decline of the violence and looting in Gauteng province.

"As the arrest of people involved in violence has risen to 289 since the Sunday, police are experiencing a significant decline in incidents of public violence and looting in the areas of Johannesburg and Tshwane," said police spokesperson Colonel Lungelo Dlamini.

"At the same time, police management is concerned about a campaign of fake news on social media highlighting a spectrum of violence that seeks to incite and instil fear among the residents of Gauteng."

The SAPS also decried the spreading of false information on social media.

"Today's false information on social media relating to schools that are burning and the kidnapping of school children in Katlehong is geared at fueling violence and instiling fear among Gauteng communities. The abuse of social media has since the flare-up of the recent incidents of violence and looting of businesses in some parts of Gauteng, been condemned in the strongest terms as it seeks to undermine the authority of the state," said Dlamini.

"While police will look at the origin of some of these fake news to curb the irresponsible distrubution, social media users are also urged to refrain from circulating such news and should rather find ways of verifying, like enquiring on the SAPS social media platforms: Twitter: https://twitter.com/SAPoliceService
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SAPoliceService and Instagram: https://instagram.com/sapoliceservice_za/".

African News Agency (ANA)