Alleged looters are arrested by police and foreign nationals outside their shop in Troyville, Johannesburg. Picture: AP/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - The Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) says it was deeply saddened by the wave of xenophobic attacks against African nationals living in South Africa.

In a statement late on Tuesday, the CSVR called on the South African government to take "decisive, swift action to protect lives and bring to book those responsible".

CSVR said it was particularly dismayed by the recurrent nature and intensity of attacks, distressing violence, destruction, looting of property and the mass displacements of already vulnerable groups in Gauteng.

"We remain concerned that the interventions from government and law enforcement have done little to quell the anti-immigrant sentiment that have been allowed to fester in South Africa," said the statement.  

"Sadly, foreigners are used as scapegoats to deflect attention from real issues affecting South Africans such as poor service delivery, unemployment, violence, poverty and in the failure of government to deliver on its promises.

“There are socio-economic aspects that trigger these attacks on African nationals and these are compounded by political rhetoric on immigration by politicians that reinforce negative sentiments towards African migrants,” said CSVR Executive Director Nomfundo Mogapi.

In March this year the SA government launched the National Action Plan to Combat Xenophobia, Racism, and Discrimination. 

"While this is a critical step towards combating xenophobia, a lot more needs to be done to deal with the triggers, identify perpetrators, bring them to book and put in place robust interventions that deal with this decades-old problem," said CSV.

The centre said there was a need for prominent and collective voices across South Africa to condemn the impunity of the perpetrators. It said it continues to partner with communities in order to address the integration of migrants, deal with the root causes of urban violence and respond to its consequences.

“The integration of foreign nationals in SA has never been done in a proper planned way and this is adding to the tensions we are seeing that are creating huge divisions in our communities,” said Nomfundo Mogapi, CSVR executive director.

African News Agency/ANA