Picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - The SA Human Rights Commission has called on government to address community concerns urgently after Soweto residents went on a rampage and looted foreign-owned stores Wednesday night.

The commission said everyone should respect and uphold the rule of law, and that there was no justification for the looting.

"Simultaneously, the commission understands that communities have expressed their frustrations and concerns over missed economic opportunities as well as the flouting of by-laws and other legal protections which regulate businesses within communities. The commission is also aware that communities have expressed concerns over the entry of undocumented migrants into South Africa, migrants who compete for limited financial resources such as business opportunities and employment," the SAHRC said in a statement.

"The commission thus calls on the State to address these concerns urgently as tensions, violence and the resultant looting directed against non-nationals we witnessed on Wednesday night, will not be resolved."

Residents in the Soweto areas of Jabulani, Naledi, Zola, Emndeni, Moletsane, White City, Zondi and Rockville attacked and stole groceries from the shops on Wednesday night. Photographs and video clips circulating on social media showed looters grabbing food items before dashing off, with some loading the stolen goods into vehicles.

During clashes in the city centre two weeks ago, mainly foreign street vendors pelted police with rocks and chased them out of the area. Police returned a week later and arrested hundreds of undocumented foreign nationals. They also discovered high calibre firearms during the raid.

On Thursday, Gauteng police spokesman Captain Kay Makhubele said officers were monitoring areas affected by Wednesday night's looting. Some shop owners who wanted to leave the area were escorted to safety.

Police raids across Soweto netted the arrest of seven people and recovery of some of the stolen goods.

African News Agency/ANA