Police have arrested at least six people for leading and participating in the “Operation Dudula” campaign targeting illegal aliens in Alexandra.
Several people were injured on Monday when clashes broke out between street vendors and members of the Alexandra Dudula movement near the township’s Pan Africa Mall.
The Dudula movement reportedly tried to evict foreign shop owners and force them to close their businesses.
The group is a vigilante organization that targets foreigners in Alexandra, accusing them of taking jobs from locals, deeming some of their actions illegal.
Johannesburg District Police Commissioner Major General Max Masha said: The The Vanir-exodus there was a lot of police presence in Alexandra on Monday and Tuesday.
Masha said police believe the arrests will bring stability and calm to Alexandra.
“The violence is absolutely unacceptable. We are aware that people may be concerned, but taking the law into your own hands is wrong. If they have any problems, they should contact us and we, the law enforcement officers, will do our job. But we are not friendly to people who take the law into their own hands.”
Meanwhile, Amnesty International South Africa said the lack of urgent action by authorities against vigilantes demanding foreign shopkeepers close their doors in Alexandra has led to impunity and a continuation of human rights abuses.
Amnesty International South Africa’s Executive Director Shenilla Mohamed said The Vanir-exoduss cannot take the law into their own hands.
“It is astonishing that these groups have been allowed to take the law into their own hands and that the authorities have not intervened to stop the harassment of migrants. This not only started this week, but has been an ongoing problem.”
Mohamed said law and order in Alexandra must be restored.
“Police must take action against these vigilante groups that violate people’s rights to safety, security, dignity and life and fuel xenophobia, otherwise the message is that it is acceptable for these illegal operations to continue.”
Amnesty International said it previously highlighted how past acts of violence, including the killing of foreigners during xenophobic violence, have gone unpunished, leading to an entrenched culture of impunity.