Minister of Police Bheki Cele. File photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency (ANA).

Johannesburg - Police Minister Bheki Cele has insisted that the police will contain the flare-ups of xenophobic attacks and work with communities.

He said intelligence agencies were looking into the attacks and the looting of shops across Gauteng.

Answering questions in the National Assembly yesterday, ministers in the security cluster also condemned the killing of women and children.

Speaker Thandi Modise and National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo also spoke out against gender-based violence, and called for decisive action.

The DA, ACDP and COPE called for an urgent meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa to address the national crisis. Cele told MPs they were not looking at xenophobia, but the criminality behind the attacks.

He said some of the shops affected were South African businesses.

Cele visited some of the areas in Joburg affected by the attacks.

He denied suggestions by the opposition that the police in Joburg had run away when they were attacked by foreigners a few weeks ago.

This was before the raid in which they arrested 640 people.

“On the question of the people, they did not run away. They retreated, which is part of training and orientation that if the situation does not favour you, you retreat,” he said.

After this, the police came back and raided the shops for counterfeit goods.

He said the recent attacks were pure criminality. Cele further pointed out that the police had so far arrested 280 people for being involved in the spate of attacks across Gauteng.“We believe the matter will be calming down and we’ll be working with communities,” said Cele.

International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor said they were working with the country’s foreign missions to inform governments in Africa on the steps being taken to deal with the xenophobic attacks.

On the issue of gender-based violence, Pandor said they believe women should not operate in an environment where they feel unsafe.

Measures must be taken to protect women and children, she said.

The murder of UCT student Uyinene Mrwetyana and boxing champion Leighandré Jegels was condemned by all the parties in Parliament.

Cele said there had been concerted efforts in the past to impose harsh sentences on people found guilty for the murder of women and children.

The minister pointed out that in the past four years, more than 4200 people were sentenced to life in prison for these crimes.

Political Bureau