Johannesburg - Gauteng member of the executive council for economic development and agriculture Kgosientsho Ramokgopa headed to Soweto on Thursday following the rampant looting of foreign-owned shops overnight.
Ramokgopa blamed the violence on anger over a weak economy and unemployment, adding that it was also a response to clashes earlier this month between foreign street vendors and police who confiscated their counterfeit products in Johannesburg's central business district.
"It is alleged that the locals are looting foreign-owned shops and attacking shopowners as a form of retaliation to the ... operation that went wrong in the Johannesburg CBD over two weeks ago," he said.
"Whereas it is easy to characterise the situation as xenophobia and self-hate, we think that central to the problem is a shrinking economy that is squeezing people out of jobs and business. Undoubtedly, this is breeding ground for conflict."
Ramokgopa said his visit to Soweto was aimed at finding "both political and practical solutions" to the situation.