Capetonians urged to “ignore” viral Whatsapp message calling for xenophobic violence

Already one person died and 21 people have been arrested for looting on Sunday in Samora Machel
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Cape Town police and anti-crime advocates are urging Capetonians to ignore an WhatsApp messages that went viral spreading xenophobic sentiment over the weekend.

The message said that every person from outside would be killed in all provinces. The sender also said there will be blood, smoke and gunfire all over the country, warning in Mpumalanga that everything will be destroyed.

The message follows attacks on the businesses of foreign nationals in Samora Machel in Philipp over the weekend in which one person was reportedly killed.

Reacting to the fresh threat of xenophobic violence, Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for safety and security, JP Smith, said, “We take our guidance from SAPS. If SAPS intelligence says it is a legitimate threat then we will activate our members.”

Anti-crime advocate Yusuf Abramjee said: “Over the weekend I have received at least five fake messages, including one saying that alleged terrorist (group) Boko Haram is going to (be) involved in some incidents in South Africa. Those responsible just want to cause fear and panic.

“I’m urging people to ignore these messages. We have seen lawlessness and criminality playing out in the violence that erupted and we appeal to the South African government to stop these xenophobic attacks.”

National police spokesperson Vishnu Naidoo said that police are aware of the social media posts.

“We have seen this posting on multiple platforms. While, through our interactions with the taxi industry and other stakeholders, we have not been able to have this posting validated we certainly cannot ignore it. We have alerted all provinces to be on alert to deal with any eventuality,” Naidoo said.

One person died and 21 were arrested for looting on Sunday in Samora Machel after reports surfaced claiming that several foreign-owned stores in Philippi and Samora Machel had been the target of protesters.

It was understood that police raided illegal shebeens in the area and that had apparently incensed some community members, sparking the revenge attacks. Police dispersed looters with rubber bullets.

“One grocery chain store was looted in the area, as well as several smaller shops. Our members reacted swiftly to the situation and arrested 21 people for looting. One fatality has been reported and the circumstances surrounding the female victim’s death are being investigated as well as the public violence,” Police spokesperson Andre Traut said.

More: IOL

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